Saturday, July 31, 2010

Savings Saturday - Couponing 101

In order to keep from randomly posting money saving tips, I'm going to post them on Saturdays. I thought maybe "Tip Tuesday" would be cute but then I didn't like it and well, after Monday, there is just no guarantee I will post on Tuesdays. ;) And of course I don't want anyone going around saying "Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays..." (Name that movie) Okay, so it's been a long week/day. Moving on...

Exhibit A

Amount Spent: $19
Almost $200 worth
That's 90% savings!

My best trip?
$0.39 for $65 worth of groceries and yes that includes tax!

It takes time. And sometimes a few headaches. But in the end... It's worth it for me.

I do most of my grocery shopping at Publix. They are generally an expensive place to shop, but they have tons of items BOGO every week. Pair BOGO with couponing and you have a great way to save! The items ring up half price, so you can use a coupon for each item or just get one!

You can also get tons of hygiene items for FREE or close to FREE at drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and CVS.

Sometimes it's hard to know where to start. I honestly just started by getting the newspaper, clipping, and looking at the sales. I did an envelope system for a while and then switched over to a HUGE binder with clear business card inserts. There are other, much faster ways of doing it, but this is what works for me.

Once I started finding sales and adding on coupons, I was okay with the results. But they weren't stellar and they were taking FOREVER. So I started using various websites to help me. A lot of them spell out the deals and even have a checklist right on their site that you can print and include which coupons you need!

Here are a few that I like...
1. Hip2save
2. Southern Savers
3. I Heart Publix
4. Coupon Mom
5. Friend Family Savings
6. Totally Target or Attention Target Shoppers

There are hundreds out there so I'm sure someone will post deals in a way that makes the most sense to you!

I generally save around 90% at Publix. I usually save at least 50% on meat and produce too, but that is another topic for another day. :)

The great thing about couponing? It always saves you money as long as you're buying things you'll actually use. You can do as little or as much as you want. If you get the paper anyway, just clip 5 coupons of items you already buy and use them on a sale! You CAN totally use them on the clearance items at Target too! Just fyi! I'm always going down the insides of the isles to see what kinds of goodies I can find.

If you have questions or want more information, feel free to email me at beautyindistress at gmail dot com!

(Oh and p.s. Yes, there are 20 bottles of Ketchup in that picture, but I think it's important to note that I called ahead and ordered that many so that other people didn't miss out on the deal and the store was prepared. I think it's super important to give a heads up if you're planning on stocking up like that!)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mommy needs a sick day

Don't you wish you could just take a sick day sometimes? Today was one of those days! E has discovered squealing in a brand new way and absolutely nothing will stop her from squealing when she wants something. NOTHING. So between my already blaring headache, and the squeals I had quite the day.

Now I am going to put away some groceries, work on my couponing for a bit, and hit the hay. I'm exhausted.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Out with the old and in with the new

Well, today is Monday. A new day and a very important day for us as my hubby starts his first day at work. I almost can't remember what it felt like to start a new job. I remember that there were nerves, uncertainty, and excitement all wrapped into one. I am just so thankful that I get to stay at home with my girl and not worry about that anymore.

It is funny though... The second you completely stop looking for work or just a little extra income, it's like the opportunities just keep come knocking. People looking for babysitters, meals, and help around the house to name a few. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the opportunities and if we were in a position where I absolutely needed to earn an income, I would accept these offers. But I honestly have no desire to "work" anymore. I know that God made it possible to be at home with the baby for a reason, and I know in my heart this is where I am supposed to be. I rarely hesitate to say no, aside from asking God and making sure it's not something I should do. The answer is just always "no". It's funny how the love of a child can instantly change your perspective and ability to say that two letter word. (I used to be a "yes" girl.)

When I first had E, I struggled to leave my job. I knew it was the right decision for us, but it was difficult. I didn't want to leave my former coworkers and boss in a tight place, I really enjoyed that job and the people I worked with. I had been working for several years, even full time during college. As much I loved my baby, it was still a hard thing to do.

And now? No regrets whatsoever. I get to hang out with the coolest girl I know every day. She is so smart and beautiful and is constantly surprising me. Despite losing my mind every now and then, being a mommy and a wife is pretty spectacular.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Maybe somebody should pinch me...

...I think I must be dreaming.

Well, the long awaited day has come. We have been praying for a new job for my husband for a long time and today, he finally got that job! As much as it will be great to be able to pay our loans down a little faster and possibly be able to not live paycheck to paycheck in the somewhat not to distant future, I am just ecstatic that my husband is happy. He will be able to sleep every night. He won't have to worry about being called in at random hours/times. He won't have to pull a 24+ hour shift. He will be able to go to church on Sunday, every Sunday. AND he will be able to spend the weekends at home with his family. God is awesome!

I am also thrilled that we will be using the overlapping paycheck to go on a mini vacation over labor day weekend. I can not tell you the last time we went on a "vacation" together. In fact, it may have been our "honeymoon" 3 1/2 years ago. My in-laws will be joining us which will be a great help with the babeh! Any extra hands and eyes are a huge help these days.

And I also caved and gave him his birthday present. I've already had it for a month and his birthday isn't until November. I found a great deal on it and couldn't pass it up. Of course, I use the first excuse I have to give it to him :( I tried. I guess maybe I am just not one of those people who can buy gifts well in advance.

And on the menu for dinner tonight was my hubby's favorite meal. BBQ mini-meatballs, smashed potatoes, corn, and garlic toast. We are saving our apple pie for tomorrow since we are both stuffed to the brim.

Well, the baby is tucked in bed, hubby is off to work one of his last night shifts, and I am going to curl up under a blanket with a glass of apple raspberry wine and watch Dear John.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The key to mommy-hood

Okay, so I really don't know the key. BUT I do know that sometimes all you can do is pick yourself up, dust yourself up, scrub your face and put on some makeup, and go on with your day. I ACTUALLY did my make up for the first time in three-hundred days well, I can't really remember. A shower alone just isn't cutting it as of late. (for me)

And also, take time out for you.

This is a current goal of mine. I need a minimum of 2 hours a week away from my girl to take care of me, the house, grocery shopping,... I will humble myself enough to ask someone for help, for my sanity, my baby's sanity, and my husband's sanity. As much as I love spending 24/7 with my sweet girl, I need a little alone time.

The energy I used to have to paint the kitchen and clean after my girl went to bed is no longer there. When she's in bed for the night, I'm lucky if I have the energy to put the leftovers from dinner in the fridge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I said I'd post some tips on here on how to save moolah for my friends who are curious about different ways to save money. I obviously haven't done a lot of that yet, but here's one!

Chicken is expensive. Particularly when you buy it in the individually wrapped packages. Personally I think it is ridiculous to pay $4 a pound for chicken. Please for all that is right and wrong and good and bad in the world, KNOW what you're paying per pound. A 2 lb frozen bag of chicken on sale for 6.99 is NOT a great deal. They don't always tell you the pounds. Sometimes it's in ounces and sometimes they don't tell you at all. It only takes a minute or less to figure it out on your own and it could save you several dollars.

At this point, for us, having a chicken coop and butchering our own chickens isn't ideal. If you're capable and willing to do it, I think that's great. You can use some to breed, some for eggs, and some for eating. In the long run, this is probably the cheapest method although there is some work involved and immediate costs.

If you like the dark meat, you can find great deals on leg and thigh meat. Buy it on sale and buy a lot of it when it's on sale. Or if you like it all, whole fryers can be a good option, particularly if you learn how to cut it into parts.

For me, I like a whole chicken every once in a while but we don't really eat a lot of dark meat. We prefer chicken breasts.

So here's what I do... I watch the sales at various stores in the area. If I see split chicken breasts for 99 cents per lb or less, I buy at least 25 pounds. I know it sounds like a lot, but that goes QUICKLY. You want to buy enough to last you until the next sale. If you watch, you'll notice a pattern. Most items go on sale about every 4-8 weeks. I then spend about an hour cutting the meat off the bone. I dump the scraps and bones into a big pot or 2 that I make into chicken stock. I rinse them, pat dry, put meal size portions into ziploc bags, label them, and freeze them. When you cut them carefully off the bone, you will have both a tender and a breast. It's actually quite easy and doesn't take long at all, especially once you get the hang of it.

If you're curious about the chicken stock, it's SO easy and will also save you lots of money. Put your bones/scraps into a pot. Throw in a couple carrots, celery, an onion cut in half, a couple cloves of garlic, some salt. pepper, and rosemary. (No need to peel the carrots or cut off parts. I'd peel the garlic and onion for the best flavor but don't worry about cutting off roots and such) Cover with water. Cook without a lid for an hour or 2. Drain and let cool. Label some ziploc bags and pour equal amounts in each bag and freeze or can. You can put anything you want into the stock and leave pretty much anything out. I've even put radish leaves in it and it was really good!

Hope this helps! Here's the quick break down.

1. Raise and butcher your own chickens if you can/are willing.
2. ALWAYS know how much you're getting for the price. (Figure out the price per lb.)
3. Watch sales and shop around for best price.
4. When price is right, buy A LOT.
5. Cut it off the bone yourself and make stock.
6. If none of these options work for you, you can sometimes find meat on closeout and there are also sometimes coupons.
(Perdue has coupons from time to time and rumor has it that Target has 3.5 whole fryers on sale for 99cents, Thanks!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bed time blues

In bed.
Out of bed.
In bed.
Out of bed.
In bed.

To be honest, there may have been another in bed/out of bed in there, but at this point I can't remember. I'm just hoping this is not a sign of things to come, because up until tonight we have NEVER had a problem with bed time. Our babe loves her sleep. And also, I never figured out why she was just so upset. I did all of the things mommies are supposed to do and checked all of the places mommies are supposed to check and I still can't figure it out. :(

Other than bed time, today was a good day! I actually had my hubby watch our girl so that I could get a hair cut and I did a little baking. Of course, not all of the baking I wanted to do, but some is better than none! Up until recently, I haven't felt like I've lost all ability to do things as I normally would. My baby was pretty portable and well behaved. Now, she is very demanding and high energy. I'm thankful for the 8.5 months I still got to do things without much issue, but it's getting difficult now. Hopefully this is normal and maybe it will get easier? I can dream, right?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Angel baby

I am truly blessed by this precious little girl. She is so pleasant and sweet most all of the time. She takes naps and goes to sleep without a problem. I could not have hand picked a better child for my hubby and I to learn from and hopefully impact in a positive way. :)

One of those weeks that leaves a "bad taste in your mouth"

It's been a tough week.

My husband and I have been attending a church for several months now and we are really enjoying it. The pastor and his family are so kind and generous. The sermons are inspired. The people, for the most part, are lovely.

If you know anything about my hubby and I and our quest to find a church where we are both comfortable, you know that it has been long, hard, and seemingly impossible. I am the type to jump in and get involved in a church, but I have been reserved and waiting and praying for God to confirm that this is where we're supposed to be and where He would like me to serve.

I've been attending an incredible women's bible study every Wednesday morning that has been so refreshing and deep, exactly what I've needed.

Well, my "church high" was very short-lived this time as I was shown once again how selfish christians can be. I understand that we are all that way, but it seems to hurt even more when it is done by those who claim to be different. I want so desperately to run and either not go back to church ever again or find a new church....maybe even one where I can just hide for a long time. Unfortunately, and fortunately for that matter, that is not an option. My family is more important than petty issues with people and my family needs to worship in a place where we are all comfortable and can serve. The church as a whole has not done anything to warrant us leaving and I refuse to allow a person to push me away.

So, I must bandage up my wounds the best I can and move on and just pray that I can get past this horrible, painful week.