Friday, September 30, 2011

The Decline of Sports

I hear all the time on the radio and tv about the decline of sports in America- people just simply aren't going to games anymore. Boo...hoo.

Let's examine WHY.

Let's say you are a fan of the New England Patriots (that's pro football, for you non sportsy people ). The WORST tickets in the joint are $65. A family of four is looking at $260 to go to the game, without including the processing fees and taxes.

Then you get to the stadium. You are going to have to PAY to park.
  • $40 for cars
  • $125 for RVs
  • $125 for Limos
  • $200 for buses
  • $40 for motorcycles (one per space)
You are now at a cool $300, if you drove in your regular car.

"Mom, Dad, I'm HUNGRY!"

Uh oh, you didn't REALLY expect them to sit through 4+ hours without needing something to eat and drink, did you? I am going to have to guesstimate on food costs (hey, I never dreamed parking was $40!). I think it's safe to say you'll pay at least $5 a drink- so x 4= $20. Then your food is probably going to range from $4+. Let's say you each have one drink and one "cheap" $4 item for food, though understand this could easily run WAY up- $36 in food. I definitely think this is a low, low estimate.


Hmm, is your kid going to want a souvenir? Bet your butt. Let's say your budget is $10 a kid, which means they can probably get a magnet.


Now, let's remember we're watching the Patriots. Gillette Stadium is in Massachusetts! You could be sitting in the snow, or in bitterly cold, 20 degree weather watching a game.

Who is beside you? Some obnoxious fan on his 20th beer. After all, just because they will only sell you 2 beers at a time doesn't mean you can't go back for more. So your kids get to sit next to some 400lb guy half naked, painted and screaming profanity, making lewd gestures and reeking of beer. Family fun for everyone! Especially when your 8 year old decides to try out a few catch phrases himself.

So you just paid $356 to sit in the freezing cold while your kids pick up some fun new words from the drunk next to you.

Meanwhile, you can buy a 42inch Plasma HD TV from BEST BUY with a 2 year warranty for $549.99. There are better deals out there, trust me.

You can sit in you climate controlled home, free of obnoxious people (unless you invite your friends over- muwahahaha), with $1 2 liter drinks and $2 bags of potato chips or 2 large pizzas ($20) that feed everyone. You can see every play on the field, you don't spend a dime in gas and for under $200 more than that 4 hours of entertainment of seeing a live game, you get to keep a brand new HD TV.

Gee... I can't imagine why you'd trade in the worst seats on the frozen field for something tangible that you can keep for years.

This is why people don't go to sporting events anymore. A family can not AFFORD to go. What happens when you spend the $356, your team gets MURDERED and you have to listen to the jeers and insults of the winning team's fans on the way to your car? Talk about your kids picking up colorful new expressions.


Thursday, September 29, 2011


In North Carolina, the unemployment rate is 10%.

10...percent.  If you pass 100 people on the street, 10 of them are unable to find employment.  There are no stats on how many people are working, but making less than they need to live on.  I know people like this.  The unemployment ran out and it was either take that minimum wage job and go hungry sometimes, or don't take that job and starve to death.

This is why I coupon. This post isn't about couponing, or stockpiling, or politics.  It's about worry and uncertainty.

When one aspect of a system or a machine fails, other parts fail.  When one person doesn't have a job it hurts us all- the butchers, the bakers and the candlestick makers.  They have to adjust for lower incomes in their business and if they make their own budget cuts, then more people are left without work.  Problem Compounded.

My employer is currently struggling.  Bad.  When they start struggling, they start looking at ways to make cuts.  While I am hoping, hoping, hoping my job isn't cut, there is always that possibility.  While they are very pleased with the work I do, there is always a possibility I may be laid off so they can rehire someone to work for less- or they will try to cut my pay.  Even cutting the paycheck by $2 an hour would save them several thousands dollars a year.

Thankfully, even if I lose my job there are cuts that can be made to our own personal finances.  Yet here again, the cycle repeats- the more belt-tightening we do, the more it hurts the local economy, which affects the national economy.

On paper, it's all very fascinating.  It sucks when you personalize it, even a tiny bit.  It sucks even more when you take a look at how things could easily be in another 5 years.

If you haven't thought about finance, if it's "too depressing", I really do urge you to take the bull by the horns and think about it now.  Waiting until the disaster is on you won't make it any less stressful or depressing.  Can you live if you or your spouse or your parents are laid off?  Do you have any kind of savings? Do you have any kind of stockpile?  Do you have any savings?

As for me, I'm going to continue couponing and stockpiling.  I'm going to continue trying to make our own budget cuts where we can so that we can build an emergency savings fund.  I should at least have some idea of what is going on by the early part of November, so I won't be left in the lurch too long.   So much for that raise my boss was going to recommend for me though.  Oh well, just having a job will be enough.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


My hair has always been the bane of my existence.  When I was young, it was too thick.  Later, it became a contradiction in terms.  One hair dresser actually told me she'd never seen hair as curly as mine also be so fine.

The rain has wreaked havoc on in.  Despite shampoo and conditioner and extra hold hair spray, the slightest bit of moisture in the air causes my already curly hair to seize up and form a fuzzy, felted, frizzed out mess.

I'm not going to post a picture, because that would shame me.

When it's not too humid (or rainy) outside and the stars align just right, my hair naturally forms beautiful corkscrew curls- the kind the pageant people spend hours trying to force their hair to make.

Unfortunately, that just rarely ever happens. 

How many times have I contemplated just shaving all my hair off?  Oh, twice a day usually. 



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

G is for Glee-ful

This makes me happy.  I'm a fan of Glee and I'm amazed at Sesame Street and how far they've come from when I was little!  First a spoof of True Blood and now this?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting a Handle on Eating Out-

Tim and I need to do better about not eating out so much.  It's hard this time of year- he's going through a process called Charge Conference (which I call other, not nice things).  It basically means 3-4 times a week he's got a meeting- sometimes more.

It's really easy to say "Oh, let's just go grab something quick".  The problem is it really adds up quick- especially on the weekends! During the week we both tend to bring our lunch to work or eating something at home.  On the weekends, we are together and usually I don't have a lunch meal planned- nothing is thawed or prepared.  Plus, we usually have errands we want to run... yep, you see where I am headed here.  "Oh, let's just grab something while we are out".  If we do that for every lunch meal Friday- Sunday for a month, that alone is $72- assuming we can both eat for $6 or less.  That takes some premium couponing to manage.  We haven't even looked at dinner yet!  Not to mention once you get in the habit of "just grabbing something" you stop planning ahead, which makes it more likely you need to "get something quick."

Today we managed to rein in our impulses and eat frozen meals at home.  It's hard though because I think "ugh, a Lean Pocket.  Quality food right there".  Then again, Hot Pockets have reinvented themselves and are much better than the pockets of my childhood.  Plus, does it have to be a gourmet meal? No.  A sandwich is acceptable.  So is a frozen meal or a Lean Pocket.  Not to mention- is the food quality at McDonalds really much better?

I love to cook.  I have tons of recipes that utilize my crockpot.  One of my goals for this blog is to post more recipes. That's the goal, anyway.  I'm slow.  So, I better work on making my recipes before I start urging you to cook using them, huh?

I'm being proactive.  I've put some pre-marinated steaks in the fridge to thaw, along with two chicken breasts. I'm getting back to scheduling my menus.  I plan to see what spices I can mix up ahead of time to make the crockpot recipes even quicker to prepare.

I can do this!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Buying what you don't need to make money.

This is going to be odd. Hang in there with me though.

Sometimes, you have to buy things you don't need to make money for things you do.

Example- we went to Walgreens and used a $5/1 coupon (from the Smart Source insert in the Sunday paper) for a Schick Hydro 3 or 5 Razor. It was on sale from $9.99 down to $7.99. The coupon made it $2.99 AND the Hydro 5 had a coupon on it for free shaving gel. So already, we've spent basically a dollar.  Yet it gets better.

Walgreens was shooting out $2 Register Rewards when you purchased the Shick Hydro 3 or 5. So I'm a dollar to the good for all intents and purposes.  (Do you see how I arrived at that number?  The free shaving gel made the value of the purchase higher.  Since it was normally $1.99 but I am getting it for free, I subtract that from the $2.99 I am spending, making it $0.99 for the cost of the razor.  Then, the $2 RRs I can use later on means I have made $1.01, even though I am spending $2.99 out of pocket at this time.)

I filled out a Mail in Rebate that was online for the Schick Razor  and sent it off- received a rebate value of the $7.99, the sale price of the razor I bought, which is what appears on the receipt before I start using my coupons.

Yep. I got paid to buy that razor and shaving gel. Tim didn't need a razor, but eventually he will use it. Meanwhile, I have $2.00 in Walgreens Register Rewards and a rebate check coming for $7.99. Sweet.  Out of pocket, I spent $3 plus tax and got the razor and shaving gel, which means I grossed almost $7.00.

There is often a coupon in the newspaper for Schick disposable razors. Usually it's $2.00 off, but recently I've found a $3.00 off coupon.

At Walmart, the cheapest bag of Schicks is $1.97.  Walmart now gives you the overage on coupons you use.  So, I get the razors free and make an extra 3 cents that comes off the rest of my purchases. I always do this deal because we can use the razors, donate them, or give them away. On my last trip that I did this deal, I used the $3.00 off coupon and was paid $1.03 in overage for the bag of razors, which came off other items in my cart. I already have 2 unopened bags, I definitely didn't need these razors, but hey- paid to buy them! Why not? 

It's good to keep an eye on deals like this. When it's free, it's free! If you can manage overage or a mail in rebate, it's icing on the cake. Anything you don't want or don't need can easily be freecycled or donated. Even check with family members or friends to see if they have a use for your "purchase".


Friday, September 23, 2011


I got an AWESOME deal at PetSmart yesterday that I really just have to brag about. 

No worries though, once I get done patting myself on the back, I'll tell you how I did it.

I got all of this for...are you ready?  $23.73. No seriously.

2 8lb bags of Authority Puppy chow- on sale for $9.99 each
2 4lb bags of Authority Cat food- on sale for $5.99 each
4 cans of Authority Canned Cat food- on sale for $0.70 each
4 cans of Authority Canned Dog food- on sale for $0.88 each
2 6lb bags of Bil-Jac puppy chow- $16.99 each
1 bag of assorted cat toys- $2.99

Total before tax? $75.25.  Thankfully I have a PetPerks card, because it would have been MORE. 

So, how did I get all of this for $23.73 total?  Easy Peasy.

When you register your PetPerks card online at, you get...well...perks.  One of those is access to online coupons.  In my case, I got two coupons (printed twice) for $5.00 off any bag of Authority cat or dog food.  Then, you can go to this website and print two more! That's $20.00 off right there, making my 2 bags of cat food $1.98 and the two bags of dog food $9.98.  Yes, I could have purchased 4 bags of cat food and saved even more, but I needed the dog food.

There are tearpads at Petsmart- get 2 cans of Authority pet food when you purchase any bag of Authority pet food.  So those 8 cans? All free.

When you sign up online at, you can give them the birthdays of your pets and they will send you a coupon for a free toy or treat when you spend $10.  Since Boo's birth month is September, the $2.99 cat toys came out free.  Yay.

I also had 2 $10 off coupons for Bil-Jac, making the food $6.99 for 6lbs.  $13.98

Then I used a 15% off coupon good for this weekend only-  it's Friends and Family Weekend!

I actually got a little overage on the cans of cat and dog food, since before the PetPerks price, they were $0.75 and $1.08 per can respectively, so that is what the cashier gave me off.

So that's it!  Just a little luck and paying a little attention to online sales and voila!  A 75% savings (or so) on my pet needs!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Car Troubles

My car looks like this!
The Caliber is having troubles.  Poor thing, you know how nothing goes wrong until you do routine maintenance? Yeahh...

We have never had the breaks checked and the Caliber has long since hit 100,000 miles.  So, Tim took it in.  The back breaks were still ok, the front breaks needed to be replaced.  No biggy.

Then starts the trouble.  It started wanting to shimmy a little as I applied break pressure.  Then it started to shimmy more.

Now it wiggles a LOT.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure when a certain car company that shall remain nameless (Midas) "machined the rotors" (I hardly understand what that is) they, to use a highly technical term, royally screwed up the car.

We're looking at $250 to get the problem fixed.

Sigh, it's always something!

ETA:  $230.  Ugh.  All thanks to Midas.  Wonder what they'd do if I presented them the bill?


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Avatar coming to Disney World?

I love Disney World.  Love it.  Don't necessarily love the price of taking a nice vacation down there, but we really do enjoy it.

I just read tonight that Disney World has purchased the rights to make Avatar attractions in it's Animal Kingdom.

Whaaaaaaaat?  What does Avatar have to do with Disney?

Disney is doing some huge expansions lately.  They are redoing Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, adding in Beast's Castle, Eric's Castle (from The Little Mermaid), several new rides, a huge circus themed area and a fun new roller coaster.

It's looking like Disney World will be the place to be in 2016-2017, once everything gets done! It will also give a year or so for everyone to rush down and be the "first" to see the new attractions. 

I guess I'm ok with waiting 6 years until I can go back to Disney.  After all, I was 17 when I got to visit for the first time.  At least with so long to save and plan, perhaps we can do a few more meals in the parks, instead of bouncing out to go eat at cheaper places.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Making a Master List

Have you ever seen a deal for something, let's say toilet paper, turned to a family member and said "But much do we normally pay for that?"

I do that all...the...time. It's obnoxious to my husband who never remembers prices and annoying to me to not know if a deal is really a deal or not.

So, come up with a Master List. It's ok to start off small with just a few items you use a lot of- say toilet paper, soft drinks and paper towels. You can build your list as you go.

You can keep this all handwritten in a notebook or just scribble the numbers and enter them in an excel file later- really it's whatever is most helpful for you! I keep my Master List written by hand in my coupon folder, where I can always grab it quickly, though I really need to put it in to an excel file just in case I lose it!

Write the average price of several stores- say Walmart, Target and your local grocery store. You don't need the average price at EVERY store around, just a few of the "biggies" your normally shop. Not only will you know where to go to buy the item regularly, but when they do the "roll backs" and "price cuts" you'll know if it's a REAL deal.

I suggest putting the regular price in one column, then the price per unit in a second one. Price per ounce, per 100 sheets, per roll, whatever. Just make sure it's equal across the board. An example of things you need to track might look like this:

Date/Brand Name/ Store/Size/ Price/ Price per unit

1/17/11- Coke- Walmart- 2 liter/ $1.49/ (whatever unit it may be in- whether you choose to just put 2 liter here is fine because in this example, it's a standard size. This is more important for things like Toilet Paper, because roll size varies greatly among stores like Walmart and CVS).

1/17/11- Coke- Target- 2 liter/ $1.50/ $1.50

See? Easy Peasy. The important thing is to keep your book updated at "regular" prices and not only concentrate on sale prices or rollbacks. For instance, if you have your handy dandy Master List with you when you notice Cokes are "on sale" at CVS for $1.25, you can instantly recognize that is $0.25 cheaper than Walmart's average price. Not a stockpile price, but not bad if you need to pick up a single coke. However, let's say you know Walmart normally charges $1.50 for a 2 liter Coke and they are running a rollback price of $0.88. That is significantly less than both Target and Walmart's normal prices, so it might not hurt to grab a few at that price.

Too easy? Want to get more in depth? We can do that!

If you're really committed, enter the price every time you go shopping. This will help you identify sales cycles. Say every 2 months, you notice Walmart puts Coke on sale for two weeks. Well, then you know to buy enough Coke to last you 2 months, then you can stock up again during the two week price break.

If you don't want to get in to the sales cycles, your more simple Master List of regular (non-sales) prices is helpful when you're flipping through sales circulars each week to say "Hmmm, Coke at CVS for $2? NOT A DEAL! Coke for $1.48 at Walmart? That's only a 2 cent break! No reason to rush right out!".   I do recommend at least updating your prices once a month or so, to account for regular inflation.

It takes literally seconds to do, especially if your list is short! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how much time (and gas! and HEADACHE!) your master list saves you. No more rushing out to get THE DEAL of the a lifetime, only to head to the next store and realize it was 10 cents cheaper regular price.  

It can be as simple or as in depth as you want it to be.  After all, this is a tool to help you!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend's over already?

I had a very full weekend and I'm sad to see that it's over already.  I had friends from Oklahoma come up to visit and a friend of mine, Joni, came to stay the night from Conovor.  We all went out to Texas Roadhouse on Friday.

Thank God for call ahead seating is all I can say.  We waited barely 5 minutes.  Woot!  We saw some other friends there and had thought about joining our two parties, but it would have made our wait an hour long, so sadly we were all better off just being split up.

Saturday Joni forced me to be up and at the Rabbit Show by 7:30 am.  Yeah, seriously, she wanted to get there at 7am and I grumped until she "compromised".  We had a great time, but I was so exhausted that even though I got home and all the rabbits settled in by 4pm, the rest of the day was shot.  I lounged on the couch watching football (yay my Tar Heels won!) and then "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry".  I love that movie.

By 10:30 I was in the bed, sleeping the sleep of the innocent (or the dead).

I got up the next morning at 9ish.  I say 9ish, because the alarm was set for 9, but it took 4 minutes for it to break through my stupor.  I spent the day with Melanie and LeAnne, the friends from Oklahoma. We headed to my hometown so they could see "The World's Largest Dollar Tree".  I'm not sure if it's really the world's largest or not, but it's huge.  We really were just trying to waste time until the Antique Store opened.  It was the only Antique Store for miles and miles that works Sundays- go figure.  Since it's 2 acres in size (in the old Kmart, ha!) we spent all of our time there.  Tim made it home just before our friends left so he could say goodbye.

Lucky, lucky Mel and LeAnne then headed to Asheville to vacation in the lovely NC Mountains.  I'm jealous.  Meanwhile, I lounged around watching Storage Wars and NFL Football. 

And now it's Monday.  Boooooo.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Just Gotta Sing

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over, yeah.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
Don't forget me, I beg
"I'll remember", you said,
Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead.

 I often have to fight the urge to break out in song while I'm sitting in my office. I particularly love what Tim refers to as my "emo" music.  And maybe it is "emo" in the strictest sense of the word.  It's emotional, it's passionate... yes, sometimes it's about how badly things suck or lost love, etc.  It's not always about the words but how they are said!  Give me a good, emotional, richly layered song and I literally have to bit my lip to keep from singing along.

Don't get me wrong, I love the tinny, auto-tuned pop songs too.  They are fun and I enjoy singing along to them, but it's like- well it's like eating marshmallows versus a nice steak dinner.  Marshmallows are fun and a nice treat, but you can't live off of them. 

By the way, if you haven't seen Adele's performance of "Someone Like You", check it out. 

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Adele

I get goosebumps.  That is what I'm talkin' about.

By the way- I never do burst out in to spontaneous song in the office.

I save that for the car ride home.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stacking Coupons?

What is stacking coupons?

Stacking Coupons is when you use more than one coupon on an item to get a better deal.

I didn't think you could do that.
You can only do this in a specialized way. 

You can stack 1 store coupon with 1 manufacturer's coupon together.  I love to do this at Target, who has printable coupons on their website and sends out mailers in some areas (never mine, sigh.)

Likewise, you can do this pairing when an item is already on sale for a triple whammy.

This seems to be what makes new couponers the most nervous to try.  I'm going to run through a scenario below.  Numbers are arbitrary, I'm just trying to help you see the scenario.

Target has Purina dog chow for $22.00.  Redplum published a coupon for $1.00 off any Purina dog chow.  Target's website has a printable coupon for $2.00 off any Purina item.

You see that the Purina dog food is on price cut down to $20.  You can pair your $1.00 coupon (that reads Manufacturers) with the $2.00 coupon (that reads Target).  This means you will pay $17.00 for the bag of dog food.

Both coupons may be internet printables, physical cut-from-the-paper coupons, or one of each.  Format does not matter.

This is a great way to get free or nearly free items and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

From Target's website:
Reminder: We accept one manufacturer coupon and one Target coupon for the same item unless either coupon prohibits it.
So there you have it.  As long as one coupon says "Manufacturers" and the other coupon says either "store" or the name of the store, they can be stacked together at that specific store.  I can't take a Target store coupon to Walmart and use it.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Easy BBQ Chicken Melts

This is one of my favorite recipes. It's quick, it's super easy and no one that has tried it has been able to find anything to complain about...which is kind of amazing, when you think about it.

Cooking Spray
1/2 cup Bisquick mix
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup nonfat milk
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
BBQ sauce
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Heat your oven to 425 F.

Spray your cooking dish with the nonstick spray.

In a shallow dish, mix Bisquick and pepper.

Pour milk into small bowl.

Coat chicken with Bisquick mixture, then dip in milk the milk (thus washing almost all of it off again), then coat again in Bisquick mixture.

Place your chicken in the dish.

Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until juice of chicken runs clear when you cut it.
*Flip the chicken when there is about 5 minutes left to cook, to crisp the bottom up a little bit* 

Spoon BBQ sauce evenly over the chicken (to taste- I'm not a big BBQ sauce fan, but it IS good slathered on there- feel free to use whatever kind you like the best).

Top with cheese (again, to taste, but don't pile it up too high lol )

Put it back in the oven for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

Voila! Delicious and actually reasonably healthy for you. Also feel free to do this with chicken tenders and put them on a nice roll for a delicious chicken sandwich!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So much time, so little to do-

Scratch that- reverse it.

I've got so much I want to be doing.  I'm sitting here thinking of the bag of apples in the kitchen that I need to turn in to apple butter before they go bad.

I'm thinking about how I need to clean the guest bedroom before my friend Joni arrives Friday- oh and I need to clean all the rabbit cages.  Yes, all of them.

The house needs to be cleaned, I need to get my game plan set up for Triple Coupons at Harris Teeter.

We have to go to the bank, though that's a pleasant chore at least because woo for paydays!

Oh, not to mention the sink full of dirty dishes because the stupid dishwasher didn't work properly yesterday and it's been pulled out of the counter to be replaced.  That's always fun.

I got free passes to a movie on Thursday, so I promised Tim we could go out to eat with a coupon for $25 off food at Tripps. Thursday is shot as far as getting things done.

Ahhhh well, it doesn't look like there is going to be a lot of time to stop and enjoy the falling temperatures and the gorgeous blue skies we've been having lately.  Maybe I can sneak some time away at work to just stare out the window.


Monday, September 12, 2011

CVS Deal/ How to Shop CVS

If you have a CVS card, be sure to go by and scan it at the "Magic Coupon Scanner" sometime this week.  I got a coupon for a FREE box of Crackerfuls or Fig Newton Thins cookies.  The coupon scanner is bright red and often near the door of the store, but if you can't find it, just ask an associate.

Lately, CVS has been doing a ton of these deals.  Every week it seems like we get a coupon for some new free item, so if you go by one regularly or there is one near your house/work/dog groomer/whatever, be sure to stop in and scan your card.  I've also noticed you can scan your card up to three times in one trip.  Since some of the coupons you get are good all month, it usually just reprints those if you haven't used them yet in the second and third scan.

The great thing about the coupon scanner is these are CVS store coupons you get.  So if you get a $2.00 off Excedrin coupon from the scanner, you can stack it with the $0.75 off coupon you clipped in the paper! Yay for extra savings.

Make sure you use your "bag tag" as well.  If you don't have one, you can buy one for $1.00 at the cash register.  I had a $1.00 ECB (Extra Care Buck) print today because it was the 4th time I had used my bag tag (you can scan it every time you bring in a re-useable bag instead of taking one of their plastic ones.  $1.00 ECBs print every 4th time you use the bag and you can only scan your tag once a day).

ECBs last 4 weeks from the date they print out and are located at the bottom of your receipt. You can also use ECBs to pay for another deal that prints out more ECBs, unlike at Walgreens.  This is called "Rolling" your ECBs.  So if an item costs $8 and prints a $3 ECB, if you use $8 in ECBs, you are getting the item for free and "rolling" $3 in ECBs forward!

CVS is one of my favorite places to shop.  They are super friendly to coupon users.  My favorite cashier laughs whenever I say "...and of course, I've got coupons".  He once told me "I'd be worried if you didn't!"


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Can it be?

September 11th.  Can it really have been ten years?  It's hard to believe 2001 is so far away- but at the same time, it feels like only yesterday we heard the news.

I'm sure that today we'll all tell the stories of where we were when "it" happened. I'm sure we can all remember it vividly.  The fear, the tears, the absolute bewilderment.

I was in High School and we all walked in to Band Class (second period), to find our instructor, a native New Yorker, in tears in front of a TV.  He told us someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center and one of them twin towers had collapsed.

What?  Is that possible?  There must be a mistake somewhere.  Who would do something like that? Why would they do that?  Oh many people were inside? Could anyone get out?

We watched the news coverage, stunned.

The rest of the day was full of uncertainty.  News had spread through the school like wildfire and even though most of us had never been to New York, had no connections to people there, we were stunned, upset- and frightened.

I remember the lunch room and hearing two freshmen girls wonder if they would hit our small, dinky town.  We older, wiser kids knew our town was safe- but what about our state capital?  What about Charlotte, the "Queen City" ?

I went home, turned on the news channels and watched the updates for the rest of the evening.  Two buildings collapsed, a hijacked plane crashed by American Heroes in a field, saving countless lives, but killing all on board.  Another plane crashed into the Pentagon.  I made my little brother, who was in early elementary school, watch a few minutes.  I told him "You need to see, so you can remember."

I think the days after September 11th were the worst I can remember.  There was so much sadness everywhere as the body count rose.  Friends and family members declared they wanted to join the military, they wanted to fight, to avenge those who had died and punish the ones who had the audacity to attack us.  Our innocence had been lost.  Most of my generation only vaguely remembered Operation Desert Storm (and doubtful any of us really understood it)- we were used to peace and none of us thought something like this could even happen.

Yet, we pulled together as well.  Emergency workers rushed from all corners of the country to help the stricken New Yorkers. Blood banks overflowed as people rushed to donate.  Everywhere you looked, flags were out and waving proudly.

Ten years. How can it have been so long already, when the memories are so fresh?  It won't be long until our high school graduates weren't alive when it happened. 

Today should be a day of simple remembrance and appreciation. Let's not politicize this one day of the year.  We can go back to being Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party-ers, Independents, etc. tomorrow.  Today, we're just going to be Americans.

I've struggled over trying to decide how to tag this post.  "Tragedy"?  Well hopefully I won't have to use that tag more than once. "Holiday"?  Well it's not exactly a holiday is it? Maybe I'll go with simply, "Memories".


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Coupon Terms

Here are some helpful coupon terms and abbreviations.

OOP- Out of Pocket- The actual amount you pay in the transaction, whether it be cash, check, credit or debit. It does not take in to account any rewards you get back.

CRT- Cash Register Tape- Usually refers to coupons printed on the bottom of your receipt.

RR- Register Rewards- The Walgreens rewards.  They are printed out after you do a transaction and usually only last a week.  Walgreens, at this time, does not allow you to use RRs on another RR deal.  If you do, the new RRs will not print.

ECB- Extra Care Bucks- The CVS rewards.  They print on the bottom of your receipt after a CVS transaction.  ECBs last 4 weeks and you can use them to pay for a transaction that includes items that will earn you additional ECBs. In addition, you can earn extra ECBs each quarter.  These print out from the red coupon machine in each CVS.

UPR- Up Rewards- The Rite Aid rewards. They print on the bottom of your receipt and the expiration date varies from a week to longer.  Like CVS, you can use them on items that will earn you more UPRs.

IVC- Instant Value Coupon- A Walgreens coupon that you can find in their monthly savings booklets.  They are store coupons and so they can be stacked with manufacturers coupons.

SS- Smart Source coupon insert

RP- Red Plum coupon insert

P&G- Proctor & Gamble coupon insert

MIR- Mail in Rebate

BOGO-B1G1- B1G1F- All are variations of "buy one, get one free"

CAT- Catalina-  Coupons that print after your receipt (Target does a lot of catalina coupons).  They are often store coupons, though if they say "Manufacturer" on them, you can use them at any store.

WYB- When you buy

These are the basics you'll encounter on couponing sites! :)


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall is on it's way!

It's a gorgeous day today- the sky is the most beautiful shade of blue and the few clouds that are out are puffy and white.

It's a delicious 72 degrees outside, a welcome change from the 100 degree highs we were hitting in the middle of summer.

It's definitely the kind of day where you want to go pack a picnic and hang out on a grassy hill somewhere, under the shade of a large oak tree that is just beginning to show it's colors.

Instead, I'm here at work.  After work, I have to run home and finish cleaning the house in preparation for a meeting we have tonight.

Ahh well, I guess I'll have to be content with the knowledge that Fall is on it's way, even if I can't enjoy it right now.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why I keep ALL my old coupon inserts

I have a hugely thick binder full of every insert that is still active, as I semi-explained in the last couponing post. I'm going to go in to the "Why?" in more detail in this one.

The "why" is actually really simple- because you never know when a deal is going to drop out of the sky.

For instance, I was skipping along happily this past April, browsing some of my favorite coupon sites, when I saw a listing for a pet treat coupon and deal.  I grabbed my binder, flipped to my 2/27 inserts and took out the Redplum insert.  There it was- $2.50 off any Purina Pro Plan Roasted Slices dog treats. 

These treats run around $4-$5 normally, which is more than I will spend on dog treats. However, they were on sale at PetSmart for.. dun dun dun... $2.50.

Yep, I walked in, picked up a package and walked out with them for $0.19- the cost of tax. It's a way my newspaper keeps paying for itself beyond the initial coupon clipping!

Hold on to your inserts until every coupon is expired. I may recycle inserts if there are only a few coupons still active in there, but I keep these pages and they go in the front pockets of my binder, or the individual coupons go in to my "Maybe" small folder.  You never know what deals are going to pop up later and you sure don't want to know you had that coupon and tossed it away- especially if it means free $5.00 dog treats!

It doesn't take much time or effort to keep the inserts. You can even just paper clip them and toss them in a box if you want to, though this is less tidy and makes it harder to dig through them quickly. My binder stays on one of the bookshelves in the living room. I date the insert with a sharpie marker and put it/them in a protective sleeve in order by date. Voila! It takes perhaps 2 extra minutes of my life each Sunday and I can't tell you how many great deals I've been able to take advantage of because I keep them.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


We often will soak chicken breasts in Kraft Zesty Italian (or any Italian) dressing overnight (in the fridge) and grill it the next day. It usually gives the meat a slight flavor, which is nice.

However, I recently made the decision to start freezing the chicken in the marinade.  That way I could grab a bag of frozen chicken and by the time it thawed, it was already marinated and ready to go.  It started out mostly as a time saver, since the chicken freezes to the freezer bag, which meant I had to wait until the chicken thawed to pour in the dressing.

However, from the very first time we used one of the "flavored" bags of chicken, I discovered that this REALLY lets the meat soak up the flavor of the marinade.

So, if you know that you like it a certain way, just go on and mix your marinade and freeze your meat in it.  It saves time and effort later on and will REALLY have a delicious flavor.  I use this for both chicken and steak and it is such a flavor burst- yum yum!


Monday, September 5, 2011


Hooray, it's raining!  Not that it's going to do us a whole lot of good- the grass is dead, the garden is fried and we're barely getting any rain right now (which is actually a good thing, flooding is a possibility after the extremely dry summer we've had).

Our dogs are all prissy little things.  Oh, it's raining? No thank you, we don't want to go outside to potty.  Oh, it was raining at one time and now it's just a little wet? But our precious feet will get damp!  They drive me crazy.  They spend more time outside trying to find a dry place to hide until they are allowed to come back in than they would if they'd just go out and do their business.  Trust me, I don't want a wet, muddy dog running around the house anymore than they want to be wet and muddy.

Oh right, I forget how miserable and neglected our chunky, spoiled rotten, indoor-98% of the time dogs are. Yes, so completely unloved.

Meh, their little attitudes aren't going to keep me from enjoying the rain, even though I know I'll be ready for sunshine after this rainy week.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Art of Couponing

I'm going to be doing some "How I coupon" posts over the next few weeks.  They will all be tagged under the listing "couponing" so they are easy to find in the future.  Hopefully you'll find it interesting or pick up some tips and tricks.

With couponing, there are four main sources.

1.) Newspaper. I get it only on Sunday to get the coupons I want.
2.) Online:  There are a lot of printable coupons out there, like and Not to mention Target has store coupons on their website that you can often stack with manufacturer's coupons to get the items free or way cheaper.
3.) In freebies. A lot of time the freebie doesn't matter as much as the $1.00 coupon you might get! :D
4.) Online Coupon Clippers. This one actually might really benefit larger families. I know several folks that have large families and buy multiple papers. That works out great when there are a lot of coupons they need, but when it's a lean week, that's a lot of wasted money, in my opinion.

So first, call your newspaper up and see if there is any kind of intro price or offer. I'm getting 4 sunday papers free because it's an introductory offer! I'd buy them anyway, but this way I get $6.00 value for free. Hehehe.

I am super-uber organized with my coupons. It's seriously the ONLY time I'm this organized. I have two small folders and a binder that keeps them all in order.

#1 is the small accordion folder I have with me all the time. It contains the coupons I know, without a doubt, I will use. I have it organized categories- "Pets" "Food" "Health/Beauty" "Household".  I leave two empty folders at the front of the folder. The very first one is for me to put the coupons in as I put the item in the cart, so they are all ready at the check out. The one right behind that is so I can put all the coupons I know I'll use in that shopping trip.That way, everything is organized and I don't have to hunt my coupons in line or while I'm trying to shop crowded aisles.

#2 is the small accordion folder for coupons I might use. I have them organized alphabetically and they are ones that I might use if the price is right, or ones for items that I'm unsure of the price. I grab it for shopping trips, along with #1.

#3, the big binder, contains all the  other coupons. I keep them in each insert they come in (Redplum, P&G and Smart Source). This one stays at home. I use it to price compare on blogs and in the newspaper. If I can get something free that I wouldn't normally consider getting, I will use the coupons, but that's about it. This is the one that takes up more time than the others, but it so worth it!  So these I keep "just in case" a deal comes up that makes an item I don't normally want or won't use free. Then you can either give it a try, donate it, or use it to get overage and get money off on your bill! Sometimes the items make good Christmas Gifts or would work to put together a gift basket. Sometimes it's just really expensive brands, so when the stars align you can treat yourself to a fancy lotion or chocolate for very cheap!

Keeping them organized takes a bit of time, but I love it. I probably spend a half hour on Sundays clipping coupons, organizing them and comparing sales papers. It's time  I'd otherwise be online, so I'm not losing much.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

What a day!

What a fun, low stress day yesterday!

River officially turned 8 weeks old, so we treated her with Frontline.  It makes me unreasonably happy to see those awful little fleas shrivel up and die.  We treated the cats and the other two dogs too.

Tim and I headed out to the Farmer's Market.  I love it so, so much.  It's so much fun to wander the aisles and see the wide variety of different produce.  One place had 8 different kinds of eggplant! I don't eat eggplant, but some if it was so pretty I really wanted to buy one just to look at it.

The scent of scuppernongs and muscadines was heavenly.  If I ever get a house of my own, I'm planting muscadine vines all over the place.  I can't smell them without remembering the home I grew up in and the summers where I played outside almost exclusively.  If I wasn't playing outside, I was reading outside.  Ahhh.

We ended up buying 10 pounds of tomatoes (only $0.69 a pound) and a few green peppers.  Tim also found a bag of raw peanuts, which made his life complete.   I regretfully passed by the muscadine cider.  I'll definitely be heading back later to grab a jug!

We ran a few other errands and stopped by Chick-fil-a for a small ice cream.  Yum yum, I could eat it every single day.  I'd be as fat as a pig, but it would be worth it!

We came home and made another batch of salsa.  I let Tim add in some habaneros (the last in our garden). Unfortunately, I ran out of canning jars.  I guess I'm going to have to buy another dozen or two of the small 8 oz. jars.   Once Fall officially hits, I'll need them for apple and pumpkin butter anyway.

It was a day where not a whole lot of exciting events happened- it's not like I came on here to say We went to Disney World! Over all though, it was a fantastic day!


Friday, September 2, 2011

Live Flowers- a waste of resources.

This post originally appeared on my blog "Keep Saving".

Tim gets a little peeved at me every now and again, mostly because I don't allow him to buy me flowers.

"Awwww" you're saying, "Why not? He just wants to be sweet!" I appreciate that sentiment. However, I look at it in this (maybe somewhat cynical) way.

Money- Flowers cost money. Sometimes (for the cheapo bouquets) it's only $5. A "nicer" arrangement from Walmart is $10-$15. So let's say he gets a "nicer" Walmart arrangement 4 times a year- That's up to $60 with nothing to show for it and we're still on the very cheap end of the flower-giving spectrum.

Mess- We have cats. Cats eat anything and everything they can with the sole hope that it will make them puke their guts out on something that is meaningful to me, or on a hidden part of the carpet that I'll step on. If we imagine I can keep the flowers safe, they start to rot, droop and the petals fall within just a few days of getting them.

So- so far we've wasted money and created a mess to be cleaned up. YAY for flowers!

Live plants are a much better investment in my opinion- something that can be potted or planted outside. They last longer and the mess is less- plus it's outside, so who cares? Unfortunately for me, I'm an indifferent gardener. I have the ability, but get bored easily unless it's the veggie garden.

Silk flowers make a good alternative to folks who need the color of flowers inside the house- no mess, no maintenance and the higher quality flowers look extremely realistic!

My personal favorite are alternative flowers. I have a half dozen wooden roses in a vase on the trophy cabinet. I also have several strange blossoms- they are made of wire and what looks like pretty colored panty-hose type material. I can't forget my pair of pumpkin seed daisies! All my alternative flowers end up costing around $1 each and they'll last close enough to forever for me!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ugh, what a waste!

I despise, I mean despise, cleaning out the freezer or the fridge.  Hate it.  Hate, hate, hate, hate it.

I cleaned out our freezer tonight, which is really what got me feeling grumpy.

First of all, it's gross unearthing something Tim swore he was going to eat that is now green and hairy and not even close to it's original smell- yes, one or two things in our freezer were so old and freezer burnt they were now green.  No, I didn't smell them, I can only imagine that horror.

I hate thinking about how much money we wasted.  Chicken, beef tips, bananas (for the rabbits), yogurt (I'm a freak, I only eat it frozen), odds and ends of bacon and sausage- even a pair of steaks that were epically freezer burnt. 

I found a container of brunswick stew from a church fundraiser (so double what it's worth and that's what we paid) that was so disgusting I threw the container out as well, rather than deal with it.  That's a lot of money in the trash can outside right now.

Yes, I could have boiled the chicken and cooked up the hamburger and given it to the dogs in small pieces- but that means I have to remember to do that. Not only that, I have to take the time and effort to do it and really, I just wasn't feeling it.  I also don't want to foster picky-eating tendencies in my animals.

What has really helped me cut down on how much waste we have in the fridge is actually to have less food in there.  If I keep on top of tossing out that last quarter cup of milk, the 2 ounces of leftover orange juice, etc. I am better able to see what I have.  I can also keep track of just how long that package of cheese has been in there.

I'm hoping I can do the same with the freezer. It's now very organized (though I'm expecting that to last only until Tim rummages around in there for the first time).  

Hey though, at least we won't need to buy chicken or steak for a while!