Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LISTERINE Total Care Zero Sampling Program

Let's face it- We all have bad breath at some point in our lives. I know there is probably nothing worse for me than talking to someone wondering if the bad taste in my mouth is also giving off a bad odor to the person on the other end of the conversation. And I also know, there is nothing worse than BEING that person on the other end of the conversation. I mean, normal people just don't blurt out "Dude your breath is RANK!", so how do you tell someone that tactfully? No matter what you say, it is going to embarrass that person. And I don't like to do that to my friends, family or even acquaintances. Nor do I enjoy being told it either. So, what can we do to fight against bad breath PLUS have a healthy smile besides brushing and flossing? MOUTHWASH. Now, I know most of us have heard of Listerine, but have you tried of the NEW Listerine Total Care Zero? It is a new LESS INTENSE ZERO ALCOHOL Listerine. And let me tell you, it works great! I've always liked Listerine, but the burning feeling in my mouth was more than less desired, so I tended to buy less of this well-known brand and more of the others. After being included in a Sampling Program from Crowdtap sponsored by Listerine, I am very impressed with their new product and have already purchased quite a few bottles of the new Total Care Zero product myself! It is an awesome feeling, having a clean mouth, and one I'm quite enjoying!

Some of the awesome benefits are:
  • Helps Prevent Cavities
  • Restores Enamel
  • Strengthens Teeth
  • Kills Bad Breath Germs
  • Cleans the Whole Mouth
  • Freshens Breath
I've even found these smaller bottles at some local *mart stores that make great travel or throw-in-the-purse so I don't have that after-lunch-smelly-breath-OMG-here-she-comes-everyone-take-3-steps-back-to-avoid-the-cloud-of-stinkiness. Because no one wants to actually live out that episode of Spongebob  Squarepants in "Something Smells" where he thinks he is horribly ugly but really only has some rank breath. So, here you go Spongebob, if only you and Patrick had some Listerine Total Care Zero, than you could eat your sundaes and not worry about disintegrating your friends and neighbors with the rancid breath!
And don't forget, there are coupons available here to try this beyond awesome new product out! Plus, if you aren't already a Crowdtapper, what are you waiting for?! I've earned tons of Amazon gift cards and gotten to try out some great products! You are missing out! Make sure to join here to link our accounts together! :) 

Please note, while this product was provided to me in a sampling program from Crowdtap & Listerine, all the opinions expressed here were completely my own and are truthful.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Tums, Cat Food, and Conditioner!

This week I was excited about getting Tums for free. I know that doesn't excite many people, but this particular week, it does me! For those that don't know yet, my husband was diagnosed rather unexpectedly in the ER with End-Stage Renal Disease about two and half years ago. To simplify that term, his kidneys no longer work. He doesn't pee. Therefore, he has to have his blood cleaned at a dialysis clinic 3 times a week for four hours each time. He has a lot of medical issues due to this, and of course, he is now completely medically disabled. It's been a long road and we are no where near the end of it, but that is why I am in school and why I coupon. Living off of a disability check every month is impossible with 3 kids and 2 adults (and a cat!). Anyway, getting back to the point with the Tums. A little over a week ago, I went to pick up my husband's prescriptions for the month and about had a heart attack when they told me it would be over $2000 dollars. Obviously, something had happened, so I went back home prescription-less. After doing some digging, we apparently had been on a program to help with our prescriptions and for some reason, it had been canceled on us. No one is exactly sure why, and it seems that we will be able to get it back, but now it is a waiting game. So, in the meantime, we don't have his meds. One of the most important ones is a binder that he must take with EVERYTHING he eats and drinks. So, while we wait, he can substitute this med with Tums. So, now you see why this was so important to me!
My son playing his DS with his head on Athena (our hungry kitty) and her "cleaning" him.
I don't know why she insists on doing this! LOL
On the other hand, we were also out of conditioner and cat food. My cat has been sitting next to her bowl for the last day and half attacking anyone that dared to come close. Let's just say, she's not been really happy with me. :D So, cat food for free was awesome too! Here's the totals:

Started out with $5 ECB's.
Subtotal $50.93
Savings/Coupons $48.25
TOOP $2.68
Savings of 94.7%

Left with $8.87 ECB's.

Started out with $12 RR's.
Subtotal $23.02
Savings/Coupons $21.97
TOOP $1.05
Savings of 95.4%

Left with $4 RR's.

Subtotal $21.00
Savings/Coupons $17.00
TOOP $4.00
Savings of 81%
Plus, each bag of Iams cat food had a $3.00/1 Iams Cat food coupon in it!

Subtotal $215.98
Savings/Coupons $95.99
TOOP $119.99
Savings of 44%
And best of all, this was all free for me
since I am still using those Bi-Lo Gift Cards I won!
AND I left with 80 cents in Fuel Perks!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Retail Savings!

So, saving at the grocery stores and drugstores, while might take some time to learn, is pretty redundant after you learn the ropes. It's exciting, but, not as exciting as getting "stuff" for free or greatly discounted- especially if that stuff is name brands you normally would not be able to afford. You know- the have to have, want so bad, omg that is super freakin' cute kinda stuff!

Now, a lot of retail is shopping during "rewards" periods. For instance, I have a Gymboree addiction. I tend to buy clearance items with discount codes during Gymbucks earning time. This last time around, I got my five year old son 2 pairs of jean and 5 long sleeved shirts for 51.74. This earned me a $50 Gymbuck. For those that don't know, a $50 Gymbuck means that during redemption period, you buy $50 worth of merchandise, but only pay $25, so essentially you get 50% off. So, in this case, one of my best friends just had her little girl, so I used the Gymbucks to buy her a Gymboree blanket (LOVE these!) and matching outfit. I got all of it for $30.47. So, essentially, if I had bought all of the items between the two different orders at full price, I would have spent $230.50. Instead, I spent a total of $82.21, saving $148.29 or 64%. Tons of stores do this "reward" period from Children's Place to Old Navy to Justice to Victoria's Secret to Crazy 8 and Kohl's. It's all about being a *smart* shopper just like when you are shopping for your household products and groceries!

So, to give some more examples of shopping with coupons and retail, here is some things I've done recently:

Toysrus has rewards program called Rewards"R"Us. During the holiday season, I managed to grab up quite a few awesome deals in store and online (especially with my free shipping from my free Shoprunner account!). So, I received over $23 in "R"Us dollars plus a ton of other coupons. Last night, using $10 worth of the "R"Us dollars I managed to score $20 worth of FAO Schwarz for only 4.99 using the buy one get one 50% off sale.

Victoria's Secret also had a good deal of online deals going on through the holiday season, and using their Sexy Little Rewards program, I managed to rack up enough points to redeem them a few weeks ago for one of their Silk Series reward cards. It came in the mail a few days ago, and I got to go in store and pick out the reward of my choice from that level reward. I got a gorgeous duffle bag (see pic below) that was valued at $88 for FREE! The best part is that almost everything I bought during the holiday season was insanely discounted and/or used reward cards to purchase, so I never even paid more than about $40 to buy over $300 worth of products to begin with! *December was a double points month, so everything bought gave me double points*

Victoria's Secret Duffle Bag
(valued at $88.00)

And last but not least, if you are friend of mine, you know that I'm all about some Bare Minerals. I love their products and probably own way more than I should! I always am shopping their online clearance and picking up $60+ dollar kits on sale for $12-$20 and the best part is all the freebies they always are doing. I almost always receive over $50 in free products using online codes whenever I do an order for things like lip gloss, mascara, brushes, make up bags, and moisturizers! Then, of course, there is always things like last night for in-store...Right now if you stop by a Bare Escentuals boutique, you can receive a free Deluxe sample of the new Active Cell Renewal Night Serum. This is going on Jan 27-29 only. I scored my sample last night and can't wait to try it out tonight! Everyone wants to wake up to younger looking skin!

These deals aren't even some of my best retail savings, but they were recent, so I felt like they were the best ones to share! :)
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How to Make Your Stockpiles into REAL Meals

Rustic Chicken Pot Pies Recipe from the Pillsbury Recipe Collection

The first tidbit of advice I can give is that for the first 4 to 6 weeks of couponing, you should be building a STOCKPILE. A stockpile is NOT hoarding. Can I repeat that?! YOU ARE NOT HOARDING! The best way to figure out if you are stockpiling vs hoarding is actually quite simple. Think about your families habits over the past 2-4 weeks. If cereal is at good price this week, how many boxes did you use during that 2-4 weeks? For instance, my family of 5 used about 4 boxes during that time frame. The sales run on a cycle of about 4-6 weeks, so you are going to want to buy around 6 boxes of cereal. You could go over a little and buy 8, but buying 10 boxes is only filing your pantry space up with food that WILL GO ON SALE AGAIN! Besides, just because Kellogg's cereals were on sale this week, doesn't mean that General Mills won't be going on sale for 4-6 weeks...A lot of times I find them to piggyback weeks...General Mills one week and Kellogg's the next! So don't feel like you have to fill your stockpile with just one brand b/c it is what is on sale. (Disclaimer- this gets easier with experience)

So, now that we have established how to stockpile and not hoard (I mean who needs 100 bottles of ANYTHING?!), you probably want to know WHY you are even doing this. Once you have couponed for that first 6 weeks or so, you will have a decent stockpile of non-perishables, freezer foods, and hopefully some other nice to have items. So, how do you turn all that randomness into meals for your family and how do you keep organized with it all? (yes, I can't stand to not be organized, lol)

I've come across a few good ways to help my family. My ideas may not work exactly for your family, but tweek them to fit your needs! My family keeps a 1 inch clearview (pink! lol) binder. Inside of it, I have the plastic sleeves. The first sleeve is 2 blank calendars, backs facing each other. We update these to help the family keep up with soccer games/practices, doctor appointments, holidays, no school days (or half days), and other special events. The next plastic sheet is a printable weekly calendar with a menu on it. *Note* I'm not 100% liking this one. It is awkward to me because it starts on Monday in the detailed area, but the menu starts on Sunday. But, I've already printed a few of them, so I will use them and then look for something else or make my own.* Then, any recipes that we will be using for the week can be placed behind this sheet facing outward, so you can use it right in the book while cooking without fear of messing up the page due to the plastic sleeve! This also is VERY handy for my family because I'm in school 4 days a week. Two of those days dear hubby has to cook and let's just say he needs all the instruction he can get in an easy to find place! :D Moving on, I also have a copy of my class schedule on the inside pocket of the binder with my breaks and class end times marked so my kids and hubby can get a hold of me if needed while I'm at school. I also have stuck the Grilling Chart for our George Foreman grill in a pocket so that it can be easily referenced.

Moving on again (yes I like to ramble, sorry!), I take a look at my stockpile:
What do we have currently? What is on sale this week as far as fresh veggies, fruits, and meats? For instance, I don't want to plan to have ground beef 5 days if I don't have any in the freezer and its not on sale!
*Frozen Meatballs, spaghetti noodles & Sauce = quick and easy spaghetti. Add a salad and some italian breadsticks if needed! Plus, the meatballs and sauce can be thrown in the crockpot so all you have to do is cook the noodles! We like to use Angel Hair since the cook time is half as much as spaghetti noodles!

*Tacos are always a hit...Just add lettuce, cheese, and chopped tomatoes! We also like to add a can of black beans and corn together. You can use chicken, shrimp, or beef, so it is very universal for sales!

*Chicken +Grill Mates Marinade with Scalloped potatoes, frozen veggies, and crescent rolls are delish as well! Plus, this is almost everything you should have in your pantry except possibly the chicken!

*Diced Ham with linguine and cream of mushroom soup (add frozen peas!) is a favorite as well!

*Pepperoni, Italian Dressing, Garden Delight Rotini noodles, olives, cheese, pepperoncini peppers, onion & peppers chopped is a great pasta salad!

*Any Diced meat or deli meat on tortilla shells with shredded lettuce and any mix of veggies (we like cucumbers and tomatoes with black olives and feta) and cheese wrapped up and sliced in half. Also, hummus or chive cream cheese can be used as a spread before to give it an extra kick! I tend to make these ahead of time and wrap them up in aluminum or plastic wrap for a quick dinner after soccer practice.

*Breakfast! Bacon/Sausage, Eggs, Pancakes, Grits, Casseroles, etc...It is always a favorite!

*BLT's! Add some fruit as a side and you have a quick and easy meal!

*Zatarain's Rice Mixes + Smoked Sausage (or ground beef/sausage)

As you can see, these are all items that we've added to our "monthly staple meals"- or basically, we tend to have these around 1-2 times a month. There are TONS more, but these are just the off the top of my head ones I came up with that we have often. Another good way to find ways to incorporate your "coupon" stockpiles into REAL meals is to look at the manufacturer's website. For instance, I recently have fallen in love with the Pot Pies from Pillsbury and the best thing is that almost everything needed to make comes from my stockpile!

So, I hope this helps you create some meals from your stockpiles, because I know I've heard more than one person complain that it's hard to coupon and make real meals for your family. Also, I know a lot of people don't like all the boxed foods. We do eat Hamburger Helper and boxed meals, but some of these meals are slightly healthier than just a boxed or frozen dinner all the time. Also, we've been making a habit of having bagged greens, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese, and dressings (I just like a light sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil myself though) at every meal to get some fresh veggies.Pin It

Friday, January 20, 2012

Back in the Swing of Things!

So, while I have no pictures because, well I was just proud of myself for dragging my sick butt out of the house tonight in the rain and cold to finally get my week's shopping done. I have been really lazy over the last few months and hardly done any shopping since we had plenty in our stockpiles. So, while I really didn't feel like going out and getting back in the swing of things...I really needed to. First of all, I had ECB's that expired yesterday...Not much, but that's like throwing cash down the toilet! So, I ventured out to 3 of my favorite stores (I probably will be going to Publix on Sunday or Monday)- Bilo, CVS, and Walgreens. The drugstores were really not about getting anything that I desperately wanted, but more about getting some "store currency" so that over the next few weeks I can use that to get the things I do want for free or almost free. So, here's how I did:

First of all, I hit Walgreens because I needed a coupon booklet for my Bilo trip. I was somewhat disappointed because I wanted the Triaminic deal and it was a cleared shelf. Also, I was really wanting to get some of the illy coffee drinks but my Walgreens did not have it on sale, so I passed on it. But, the big money maker was still there!

South Beach Diet snack or meal bars 5 pk $5.99 = 6 RR
Use the $1/1 coupon found here
Pay $4.99 with a 6 RR!
*I did 2 of these transactions*

Subtotal 15.98-6.00 Savings = 9.98 or 37.5% +12 RR

Okay, next up was CVS. I was pretty sure all the "magic coupon machine" coupons would not be printing for me, so I was planning to do some of the other deals. I had 3 ECB to start that I needed to change over because they had expired on Thursday. So, while I was secretly hoping to grab some of the Almay eye makeup for my daughter to play with (I'm a Bare Minerals girl myself), I wasn't too surprised to find that shelf to be completely cleared. So, here's what I did:

Spend $12 on Participating Glade or Oust Products = 4 ECB (Limit 1)
Buy 2 Glade Sense & Spray $5 each
Buy 1 Glade PlugIns Scented Oil Lasting Impressions holder $5 each
Total = $15
Use 2 $3.50/1 Glade Sense & Spray coupons found here
Use 1 $3.00/1 Glade Plugins Scented Oil Lasting Impressions holder coupons found here
Pay $5.00 with a 4 ECB!

Buy 2 Dove Valentine Chocolate hearts 7.94-9.5 oz
Use the $1/1 coupon 1/8 RP
Pay $4 with a $1 ECB!

Subtotal 42.75 - 36.75 Savings = 6.00 or 85.9% +5 ECB (started with 3ECB)

Okay, so now it was time to do the grocery shopping. I had 2 of my 3 children with me, so I don't think it needs to be said that I was influenced to buy some things that *GASP* did not have coupons! Regardless though, I had a pretty good trip for Bilo.

2 Emerald Breakfast on the Go
2 Emerald Flavored Almonds
2 Mott's Applesauce 6 packs
1 Hunt's Pudding 12-pack
2 Hunt's Pudding 4-packs
2 bags of Ruffles chips
1 bag of Coco Dyno-Bites cereal
2 boxes of Wheat Thins
2 boxes of Wheat Thins Stix
1 loaf of Sunbeam bread
2 bags of Millstone Coffee
1 bag of Quick Grits
4 boxes of Mac & Cheese
2 cans of mushrooms
2 boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal
1 Trop 50 Orange Juice
8 bags of Bird's Eye Chef Favorites SteamFresh Veggies
2 bags of DeWafelbakkers Blueberry Pancakes
1 3lb bag of Cuties Clementines
1 bag of Fresh Express 50/50 blend salad mix
3 Too Tarts Spray Candy

Subtotal 143.66 - 88.06 Savings = 55.60 or 61.2%

So how did you do this week? :) I would love to hear in the comments!Pin It

Friday, January 6, 2012

Looking Back...Looking Forward

So, it has been a year exactly as to when I started this "couponing" adventure. I have to say that my cabinets, pantry, and closets are all still pretty well stocked from the last couple of months, but I haven't really done much shopping. As I think about the past year, I remember how excited I was at the crazy good deals I was finding with coupons (especially the drugstores, those are still my favorite). I got somewhat discouraged around August and I'm sure if you look back with me, my posts dwindled...and faded out.

It happened for two reasons. The first, simply because getting my degree has taken priority in my life. I'm a perfectionist, so this means anything less than an A is unacceptable for me. I was accepted into a special program at my local college in order to start clinicals due to my obsessive studying, so I guess it does pay off in the long run- I went from a start date of August 2013 on the waiting list, to May 2012. While the classes I'm currently taking aren't even for my nursing degree, I still feel they are very important to me (remember, I'm a perfectionist!). So, that being said, this last semester was very time consuming and somewhat more stressful than what I have experienced in the other 4 semesters previously. So, it became easier to just use my stockpile from the previous 7-9 months rather than grow it. So, the little shopping I did do, while was coupon oriented, was not oriented around a stockpile, therefore I chose not to take that precious time to share most of it with you.

Second, I was discouraged. I was discouraged over coupons that I needed never in my inserts. I was discouraged at the drugstores for their overzealous attempt at catching couponing fraud...and in the meantime chasing a legitimate couponer away. I was discouraged over the never-ending battle of keeping organized (OMG this drives a perfectionist INSANE!) It is so very frustrating to see posts of people that buy things at drugstores and grocery stores that they probably will never even use before the expire, but yet I can't even get 2 for my family of 5. I know you can get a raincheck (heck, I've even recommended it on this blog), but with my limited time, driving back and forth to the stores is not something I can do. If those "extreme couponers" are ever questioned, they usually say they plan to donate. And I applaud them for their attempt to make the world a better place. BUT! What about the families like mine? The families that struggle EVERY DAY to make ends meet due to circumstances beyond our control (medical disability in our case). The only reason my family gets food on OUR table is because of coupons. So, while I do applaud you for your efforts Ms. IBuy10BoxesOfCerealToDonate, what happens to my kids when I can't even get the 2 boxes I need to last a week? *sigh*

I'm rambling now and discouraging myself all over again. The point of this post is to bring about my new year...my new savings. While I still plan to coupon, and I still plan to stockpile, I am going to make more of an effort to get less frustrated with it all. I've always followed this mindset, but it does make me angry when I can't even get 2 boxes of Skinny Cow chocolate this week at CVS. That is a treat for ME. I love chocolate. But, I'm trying hard to also loose some weight (goal for the year is 50 lbs, but that's another post) and to be able to snack without feeling so guilty would be wonderful. But, I've come to the conclusion, that item is probably not something that I will be able to get. Too many hoarders...Oops did I say that? I meant freebie scavengers. ;D

I hope that I haven't offended anyone, and if I did, well, you offended me first by buying everything on a shelf and not leaving anything for my family! :D I look forward to:
1. Falling in love with Couponing again this year
2. Finding some great deals that no one else seems to notice
3. Poking fun of Ms. IBuy10BoxesOfCerealToDonate when I see her in the stores
4. Learning more about coupons, b/c it is always something new!
5. Loving my stores again

So, my final question is when does STOCKPILING change to HOARDING? I like to think that a stockpile can be used up in 6-8 weeks, maybe even 12 weeks. I shop only for that 4-6 week mark for my own family sometimes less. Hoarding...well. We've all seen it.

*disclaimer* Ms. IBuy10BoxesOfCerealToDonate is not a real person...It's just my name for when I see someone sweeping or almost sweeping a shelf ;)Pin It