Tuesday, February 21, 2012

organizing coupons

Week 7 in the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge  was about organizing coupons.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, money in our household is few and far between.  One way I stretch my dollar is using coupons. 

I have seen many systems, binders and even closets. I used to watch, the Extreme Couponing show --but got exhausted watching the show.  A few years ago, I went to a community ed. class on finances and the teacher talked about how to combine coupons with sales to get the most for one's buck.  The teacher had quite the system.  And I was impressed.  Our teacher spent hours and hours planning, plotting and organizing to get fabulous deals locally and online. 

I don't feel like I have hours and hours to organize, plan and plot out visiting many stores around town.  I am a mom to a kindergartner and a step-mom to three other children.  I teach part time and help my husband run our up-and-coming jewelry business. But those who can spend the time, find it worth every minute in their savings!

My way of using coupons is simpler ---though I am sure I am missing our on many great buys. And I am OK with that. I do what works for me.

We start by receiving 3 Sunday newspapers to get 3x the Sunday inserts.  And I get another set of coupons from a friend who doesn't use them. If you don't want to buy 3 Sunday papers, ask around. Many people will give you their coupons-- friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.  I then file the coupon inserts by date. So all of last Sunday's coupons will go in one file, the previous Sunday's are in another file, etc.  I don't cut out individual coupons.

My file drawer for coupons. Most coupons are good for 1-3 months.

I look through the Sunday ads and make up my grocery list. I don't look at all the ads as I know I won't go  to all the stores.  I have 1 grocery store that I really like and another that I go to once in a while.  I also like 2 drugstores in town.  Once I have my list, I go to the coupon list from Pinching Your Pennies.  They have lists of all the coupons available from the Sunday inserts. And they are in alphabetical order by product/brand name. So if I need toothpaste and I see that Colgate is on sale at my local store, I look at the coupon list and see: Colgate Optic White, Total Advanced or Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste, any 4 oz. or larger .75/1 (3-3-12) SS-2/12
This tells me that there is a $.75 coupon for 1 Colgate Optic White or Total Advanced or Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste. The date in parenthesis is the expiration date and SS 2/12 tells me that it is from the Smart Source coupon insert from February 12th.  Then, I go to my file for Feb. 12th, pull out the Smart Source inserts and cut out the coupon I need for Colgate.

I then purchase the as many products at the sale price as I have coupons for. Then, I have extras on hand and won't need to buy more toothpaste until I can get another great buy. Great sale prices usually cycle through every 3 months for grocery items.

Coupons are filed by date, and I reuse the stickers with a new date to save on stickers
I have a pretty good idea of the items we buy if the store is offering a good sale or not. I have an informal price book (or here is another price book link) and am working on formalize mine. But if I am not sure if the sale is a good deal, I use the GrocerySmarts  This site lists the major grocery store weekly advertisement sales-- with the prices rates 1-5 stars (5 Stars being the best of best prices).  It also lists if there are coupons available--in print and online. The idea being, again, stocking up with items at their lowest prices.

I usually have my grocery list, coupons cut and organized within an hour's time.  With the web site's help, I am able to keep our grocery budget to about $200/month. I set aside $50/month for case lot sales that our grocery stores have in the fall, and about $30/month for our Community Co-Op food and then the rest of about $120/month goes for groceries, hygiene, paper and drug store purchases.  Not bad for our family of three!

S  T  R  E  T  C  H  I  N  G  and pinching our money is, my friends,


PS Pinchingyourpennies.com coupon guide mainly concentrates on serving those in the western USA. Below is a list of sites that offer coupons across the country: (note: just try one or two websites to see if it works for you. No need to try them all.)

General grocery coupon sites:

Coupons for groceries and more:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


In honor of St. Valentine's Day, I want to share with you one of my favorite scriptures:

Love suffereth long,
     and is kind;
love envieth not;

love vaunteth not itself,
     is not puffed up,
          doth not behave itself unseemly,
                seeketh not its own,
                        is not provoked,
taketh not account of evil;
rejoiceth not in unrighteousness,
     but rejoiceth with the truth;
beareth all things,
     believeth all things,
          hopeth all things,
               endureth all things.
Love never faileth...
                                       --1 Cor. 13:4-8

Monday, February 13, 2012

Week 7 of being organized

This week marks the 7th week in the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge.  Here is recap of how I am doing thus far.

  • Week 6: Create a home recycling center (plus dealing with trash)  -- finished! Well, this too was already done.  We have a big garbage in the kitchen that we dump the trash from the smaller cans into. When the kitchen trash is full (orstarts to stink) we empty it into the big outside garbage.  We have two recycle bins. One for what our city collects and one for glass that our city does not recycle, so I take it to my brother's house when I visit him. His city recycles glass.
  • Week 7: Organize coupons   -- finished!  This too, is another area I am allready organized in.  I will have a post later this week on how I organize and use coupons.

I have a bit to catch up on, but it is coming together.

And being organized, my friends, is

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Saving $ with the laundry

    I need to be frank with you. Money in our household is tight. VERY tight!---- So I have learned to make my dollars stretch as farrrrrrrrrrr as they can. One of the things I do is make homemade laundry soap and stain remover.  There are many different kinds of soap, and multiple recipes.  Below is the recipe that I make with pictures to show.
    the ingredients

    Laundry Detergent Recipe:
    * 1/3 bar of grated Nels Fels, Fels Naptha, Ivory or Zote soap

    * 1/2 cup washing soda --- note: it is washing soda, not baking soda

    * 1/2 cup Borax
    Grate the soap and mix with 6 cups water in a big pot.  Bring to a boil and cook until the soap is all melted.

    melting the soap
     Add the soda and Borax. Stir until all is melted and mixed well. Turn off stove and have pot sit for a minute. 

    the soda, borax and soap mixture

     In a bucket, pour 4 cups HOT water.  Then pour soap-soda-borax mixture in. Mix. Add 1 gallon + 6 cups water.  

    the mixture in a bucket with more water being added

    mixing up the mixture

    I usually pour into used laundry containers.  Let sit over night. The soap will become a semi-solid globby (egg-noodly-soupy) mixture. Use 1/2 Cup with a full load of laundry

    a. there are not a lot of suds with this soap. So if you don't see any, that is fine. Soap does clean without suds.
    b. If you want to have a scent to you soap, add some essential or fragrance oil.  1/2 to 1 ounce per batch.
    c. for High Efficiency (HE) Front-Load Washers: I have done some research on the internet and have found that this soap is safe. HE washers require special soap because they use less water and thus use less sudsy soap, which this recipe is for.
    d. all of these can be found at your grocery store in the laundry detergent aisle, especially if the store caters to shoppers who cook more from scratch than prepared meals. If you can't find it, just ask a clerk.

    Here is a link for even more recipes, including dry recipes that you don't have to cook:  http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/

    ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

    Homemade stain spray is even easier. I love this and have found it gets out even the yuckiest of stains.

    1 C. ammonia
    1 C. dish soap
    1 C. water.

    Pour into spray bottle. Shake a few times to mix before spraying on clothes. This is not a good recipe for pretreating clothes.  It works best when clothes are sprayed just before being washed.

    Yep! that's it and it's ready to go. I like to add a marble to my spray bottle to help mix up the mixture.

    I am not sure the cost savings, as I buy most of these items in the fall during our case lot sales. but I saw on one blog post that the store bought laundry soap costs about $0.30/load while homemade soap costs $0.01/ load.  The cost of the stain remover is about $0.50/spray bottle full vs. about $3.00 a store bought bottle.  Next fall, I will save my receipts and do my own calculations.

    And stretching those dollars to fit your budget, is my friends,

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012


    Today was a very disappointing day.  There were a few disappointments on the homefront, a few more at work and just a bit more with life in general. Even the sky was a disappointment, as I was hoping for snow or a bright sunny day. Neither occured. It was gray and overcast and, well, just... blah.

    I have a hard time dealing with blah days in the winter. If it were spring, summer or fall, I would run out and play in the flower beds or the vegetable garden. To get a bit dirty and to dig in the earth always heals my inner soul.  But in the winter, I don't have that option. I have yet to find something that soothes the soul as well as dirt.

    But as I was mooping about, my 5 year old Miss M. had a friend over after school to play.  These two are like soul mates, but alas, after two hours of playing, some feelings got hurt and it was time for friend to go home. Miss M. and I walked the friend home and as friend's mom and I were talking, the girls moopped about outside. However, after a few minutes, they were playing tag, laughing---alas, life was good again.  

    On the way home, Miss M wanted to race me home. Why so excited and anxious to get home? Silly mom, she replied, it's bubble bath night! I just loooooooovvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeee bubble baths!

    What do I have to look forward to tonight? I had to pause and think....but I now realize --there is is a warm fire burning in the kitchen fireplace,  a roof over my head, my family is in good health, my husband is working 3-part time jobs, uggh, but he has a job! my daughter wants to race me home, because it is bubble bath night and also, I remembered the love from God. 

    While my daugher in living the grand life in the bubble bath this evening, I will be singing a favorite song as a child. The words are:

    Whenever I hear the song of a bird
    Or look at the blue, blue sky,
    Whenever I feel the rain on my face
    Or the wind as it rushes by,
    Whenever I touch a velvet rose
    Or walk by our lilac tree,
    I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
    Heav’nly Father created for me.

    He gave me my eyes that I might see
    The color of butterfly wings.
    He gave me my ears that I might hear
    The magical sound of things.
    He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
    I thank him rev’rently
    For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
    Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.
    --by  Clara W. McMaster 

    And that, my friends, is 



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