Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lovin' this stuff & Grocery Store Totals!

Okay, so we all have that one thing (well, sometimes we have more, but you know what I mean!) that we will pay full price for just because it is something that we love and won't do without. Well, I just found mine. O.N.E. Coconut Water! I'm totally in love! There are some other brands out there that I have tried as well, but so far this one has been my absolute favorite. I have recently made a decision in my life to lose some weight. I'm not dieting. I'm working towards having a healthier lifestyle. I have a friend that I actually have gotten to know better because our daughter's are friends that is helping me along and introducing me to some healthier choices in my life. I'm going to be honest here...A lot of this I already knew, but just was not applying. I've realized that I want to feel better about myself, which means changing some bad habits in my household. I am exercising regularly (3x a week right now for at least 30 minutes a day) and keeping track of my calorie/fat intake on My Fitness Pal. That site is also helping me keep track of my weight management, exercise goals, and more. I'm really impressed with it all. Anyway, back to the coconut water. Gatorade and other sports drink tend to make me feel nauseated after drinking them, so I usually just stick to regular water for hydration, but it is missing some of the key components to getting your body hydrated. Coconut water is a wonderful tasty way to get these electrolytes back in! I can't say enough good things about this stuff! If you are dying to try it...Publix carries it in my area for 1.49 for a single serve carton. I'm REALLY wanting to find some of the ones made for kids for my kids after soccer, but so far have not had any luck finding it...Hoping it will be in our area soon! 

Publix Trip
2 ONE Coconut Water cartons w/ Pineapple
2 boxes of Trix Cereal
2 bags of Rosetto Stuffed Shells
2 bags of Rosetto Tortellini
2 boxes of Nabisco Cinnamon Low-Fat Graham Crackers
2 jars of Prego
1 pack of Yoplait Light Yogurt
1 Pillsbury Egg Scramble
4 Yoplait Smoothie mixes
3 Heluva Good Dips
1 single serving of Activia Parfait
2 Krusteaz Muffin mixes
2 Krusteaz Blueberry Pancake Mixes
1 Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil
1 box of Fiber One Chewy Bar
2 bottles V8 Fusion Juice
Total Before Savings/Coupons: 95.65
Savings/Coupons: 69.20
TOOP: 26.45

Savings of 72%

Bilo Trip
2 boxes of Kashi Crackers
2 boxes of Kashi Pita Crisps
1 Ragu Sauce
10 cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup*
10 cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup*

4 cans of whole grain Chef Boyardee
1 bunch of celery
1 bag of potatoes (10 lbs)
1 bag of onions (3 lbs)
1 acorn squash
1 butternut squash
1 bag of baby carrots
1 bag of baby spinach
3lbs of green cabbage
2 large tomatoes
1 loaf of french bread
Total before Savings/Coupons: 67.40

Savings/Coupons: 35.88
TOOP: 32.52
Savings of 53%!
*I bought these with the intention of donating since I was paying only 38 cents per can. All three of my kids are going to donate them at their school for the food drive tomorrow. :) Otherwise, I would NEVER have bought that many, and I did not even take 10% of what was stocked on the shelf!
So, my TOOP was 58.97 for this week's grocery shopping, if you don't count that I used my Bilo gift cards that I won a few months ago. :)
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Why? Part II: The Drugstores...CVS

The drugstores can be very very confusing, but once you learn the tricks of the trade, they can be the most rewarding. The main drugstores that I know of are CVS, Walgreens, and Riteaid. Each has it's own pros and cons, so you will have to decided which one or ones work the best for your needs. All three have their own version of "store currency" that you get as a reward for buying a certain product at a certain time.


CVS is by far a favorite among most couponers. It is personally my favorite as well.  As I described above, all three of the drugstores have their own version of store currency. At CVS, it is called Extra Care Bucks or better known in the couponing world as the famous ECB's. Basically, to make it simpler for everyone, think of these ECB's as cold hard green cash. If you loose one, you can reprint it from the ExtraCare website, but for our purposes, you want to think of it as money. Once you grasp the idea of trading ECB's for more ECB's everytime you shop, you will have mastered the basic idea behind ALL of the drugstores. Here's the idea: Every week there are special deals that will say if you buy {this item} you will get back {certain dollar amount} in ECB's. The concept is for you to go into the store, with the idea of using your coupons to make the deals even sweeter to receive the ECB's. Then, you use the ECB's to pay for your next transaction (remember, ECB's are MONEY). If you are smart, you will try to use ECB's to pay for other transactions that will in turn give you more ECB's back, therefore you will NEVER pay more than tax out of pocket. Let me give you a real example from a few weeks ago:
Sample Scenario
*$3 ECB WYB Oral-B Pulsar toothbrush 1pk $6 (Limit 2)
  Use $3 off Oral-B Adult or Kids battery toothbrush, PG 6/05
*$2.50 ECB WYB Crest Pro-Health rinse 1L $4.50 (Limit 2)
  Use $2 off Crest rinse, 946 mL +, PG 6/05
*$2 ECB WYB Colgate MaxClean 6oz $2.79 (Limit 2)
  Use $1 off Colgate MaxClean toothpaste, May All You magazine
In this scenario, we are getting some great deals on oral care! Here's the idea:

Transaction #1: Buy 2 Colgate MaxClean toothpastes (5.58). Use 2 $1.00 off coupons (3.58). Pay for your items, which will be 3.58 without tax. Get back $4 in ECB.

Transaction #2: Buy 2 Crest Pro-Health rinse (9.00). Use 2 $2.00 off coupons (5.00). Use your $4 ECB (1.00). Pay for your items, which will be 1.00 without tax. Get back $5 in ECB. 

Transaction #3: Buy 2 Oral-B Pulsar toothbrushes (12.00). Use 2 $3.00 off coupons (6.00). Use your $5 ECB (1.00). Pay for items, which will be a 1.00 without tax. Get back $6 in ECB. 

*Now you have $6.00 in ECB to come back with the next deal week! If you can manage to do this every week, you will always have a VERY small amount out of pocket, and you may even have some week's that all you pay is tax!*

There are a few key things to remember when shopping at CVS:
#1: They will accept a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon, so keep your eyes peeled for store coupons. They come out of the "magic coupon machine" (red machine where you scan your card in the store), off of the CVS website as printables, out of a magazine that can be purchased at CVS called Reinventing Beauty, and sometimes hanging around the store itself.  
#2: Buy a GREEN TAG. It is a cute little leaf tag that costs a dollar to purchase. If you scan it every time you make a purchase in the store (not different transactions), it will print you a $1 ECB for every 4 store visits!

#3: You MUST have a CVS ExtraCare card to get the deals! Think of it as your Bilo BonusCard or FoodLion MVP card. If you register it online, you will have access to sign up for other deals like the Beauty Club where if you purchase $50 in beauty products you will receive $5 ECB. Also, quarterly, you will get a percentage back of what you have spent in the form of ECB's. Also, for the first time when you register your card, you will get a $4 off of $20 purchase coupon.

#4: ECB's do expire, but you generally have a few weeks to use them.

#5: Rainchecks! See my post here about these! Drugstores are notorious for running out of the "best deals"! Don't let it discourage you, they will have more stock in soon, but in the meantime, get a raincheck so you can still get the sale price AND the ECB deal. Yes, you heard right...You will still get the past ECB deal! 

#6: This is more of a general tidbit for couponers everywhere. Don't be afraid to mess up when you are first starting. Start small. Don't overwhelm yourself. Sometimes things don't always work the way you think they are going to. I always have a back up plan and I'm not afraid to question (NICELY!) the cashier. I coupon because I can't afford not to, but at the same time, I want my cashiers to like me and help me understand their store's policies. I have found that the nicer and more understanding I am with my cashiers and managers, the better response I get when I do screw up. :D
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What are you reading?

Books! Anyone that knows me personally, knows that I absolutely love to read. I have thousands of books, and that is an understatement. I read them over and over again. I love my books. But, here lately I've seriously been thinking about a Kindle. It would be seriously easier to carry around at school and since I have at least another 3 years before I even finish my first degree, and then I would like to continue on with my master's...I'm sure it would get some serious usage! Also, I've done a lot of research on the Kindle vs Nook debate, and the Kindle seems to be the way to go. Being able to use it outside in the sunlight is one serious draw for me....I'm always in the car with the kids, driving hubby to dialysis, or outside on campus. Not to mention, we start soccer here in about a week, and then I'll be on those fields every spare and not so spare moment I have. So, what do you guys think? "Real Books" vs Kindle vs Nook...I vote real books for some of my favorite series that I couldn't imagine not owning for the rest of my life (lol) and Kindle for everything else.

While we are on the subject of books...What are you reading? I've always got my nose in a book and usually more than one at a time. Right now I'm doing a lot of reading in my literature class, so I've been seriously inspired to go back and reread some of the classics like Moby Dick, Huck Finn, Jane Austen and some others. But, I am reading for fun too...I'm currently on the Stephanie Plum series from Janet Evanovich and I'm on Ten Big Ones. I'm also reading a new series by Pittacus Lore and currently on the first book I Am Number Four.

The Stephanie Plum series is a light hearted hilarious, make you roll of your bed with laughter type of series. I have been known to burst out in laughter at any given moment with these books, tears rolling down my face! I don't want to spoil the fun for you, but basically it is about a woman from Jersey who looses her job as a lingerie buyer and becomes a bounty hunter. She has two extremely hot men in her life and both make me wish they weren't fictional characters (lol)!  She blows up cars, rescues friends, and has the coolest grandma ever...I can't recommend this book series enough!

I Am Number Four is also a movie series...although having seen the movie, it is not the same (are they ever?!). I am enjoying the books so much more...It's fantasy/sci-fi I guess...Aliens, love, action, and more. I started the book yesterday and I only have about 60 more pages to read. I am totally hooked on it...It is going to rank right up there with my other favorites: The Hunger Games series, Twilight Series (although I love The Host more!), The Mortal Instruments series, and The Infernal Devices series...I would love to give better book reviews, but I'm not sure how many of you are interested, so let me know! I love sharing! :)Pin It

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Organizational Methods

*sigh* Public speaking scares the crap out of me. Not exactly sure why, especially since I like to talk. And boy can I talk. Heck, I can talk about anything to anyone (just ask my husband)! But, when it comes to actually *talking* in front of people, I get the heebie jeebies. Which makes me wonder why the @?!# I'm taking a public speaking course this semester!? Oh yeah. I remember. I need it for my BSN and since I'm waiting for clinicals to start, I have nothing better to do. My teacher said that in a poll done, humans fear speaking in public more than they do death! Not sure that I'm that extreme...but, anyway.

This brings me to my point. These videos straight up are awful! But, I'm going to share them anyway, because I'm proud of myself, even if I did it in the privacy of my own bedroom with no one watching, it was still nerve wrecking to think that people might actually LOOK at them. Seriously.  I find that these methods work best for me. Minimal time, minimal cutting, lots of organization. That doesn't mean it will work best for you. Everyone has their niche. I am currently in college taking classes for my ADN and working on my BSN at the same time. I have a disabled husband that has severe medical issues (and is very needy, lol, but I think that is most husbands!). And then, I'm a mom to 3 kids. We do soccer and participate in almost all school activities. We are very involved with our family and friends. So, needless to say, spending any more than 1-2 hours a week to keep myself organized is almost too much already! Plus, I don't like standing in a store flipping through my binder --> I don't like people watching me. It freaks me out. So, an insanely huge binder would only draw even more attention to me, and let's face it....I'm a little weird anyway. Plus, the binder is freakin' massive anyway. I'm not sure where the heck I would put my inserts if I decided to cut them...They certainly wouldn't fit in my binder now (which is up to 5" thick right now!)

So, the first video is about my whole insert method and how I've organized it. My second video is about my binder itself. It is a Case-it binder from Amazon, but I have seen them for 14.99 at Walmart.  The third video is how I have organized my restaurant and retail coupons. And in case you couldn't tell from the video, I absolutely HATE when my free panty coupons expire! It drives me batty! :D Anyway, have fun with these and please...DO laugh at my expense! Feel free to comment and ask questions! I'm hoping these are helpful to those that haven't find their *niche* yet!

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