I’m getting better and better at the whole coupon thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a LONG way to go. I looked up ideas for organizing coupons, and some people put me to shame! I had been using a little accordion file with about 5 pockets in it, but I found it was really hard to view the coupons this way, and I ended up wasting some. I found this site that outlines some of the many ways people choose to organize, and decided that the binder approach would work best for me. I’ve bought the binder (and some tabs to separate different categories) but am on the hunt for the little baseball card sheets. Once I have everything together I’ll post about it so you can see the process. Continue Reading…
Brian, my husband, often teases me when I get excited about a sale or a bargain. As we’re walking out of the store where the bargain was found, he’ll say, “I bet you can’t wait to look at the receipt and figure out exactly how much you saved, right?” or, “I bet you can’t wait to email your mom about this deal, huh?” He knows me too well.
I’ve started to rub off on him a little, though. A while back we were at Target when we saw a large clock. Clean, simple, with a nice silver frame, it would be perfect for our living room. The only problem? It was $50 – and there was no way we could justify spending that much on a clock, no matter how large or beautiful it was.
We went back a couple of weeks later, and the clock was marked down to $35. We seriously contemplated buying it then, because we really liked it… and like I said – big, beautiful, perfect for our living room. You get it. Well, we talked ourselves out of it because we really wanted to start making wiser choices about purchases.
Fast forward two more weeks. We were out running errands on a Friday night and Brian needed to run in Target to get diapers. The boys and I waited in the car, and it wasn’t long until Brian came out, diapers in tow – along with the clock! He had found it marked down to $12.48 – 75% off. He didn’t say it, but I know he was proud of his find, and I love having it hang in our living room. We always get compliments on it, and no one can ever believe that it cost so little.
Here’s a photo of the clock in our living room. See how large it is? It really fits with the rest of our decor – and we never wonder what time it is.
Brian and I have a pretty set routine on Sundays. We go to church in the morning, go have lunch, and then by the time we get home the boys are usually exhausted. Brian usually gets the boys ready for their naps while I organize my grocery list.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m slightly extremely OCD when it comes to planning my trips to the grocery store. First I do meal plans for the week, so I can see what ingredients I’ll need for various meals. Then I add other items, like paper towels or dog food. Sounds pretty normal so far, right? Well, this initial list isn’t good enough for me. I make another list that is in order of the store layout, so I can be as efficient as possible.
This methodology has been disrupted by a change in stores recently. We had always done our grocery shopping at (shudder…) WalMart. It was never a pleasant experience – it was always very crowded and took forever. It was a lot cheaper than another local store we used to shop at, so we figured this was our best option. Until we rediscovered HEB.
We had gone to HEB here and there a few times since living here, but never paid attention enough to realize they’ve got pretty competitive prices. We decided to try shopping there to look for a few products we used to buy at Central Market (also owned by HEB) in Fort Worth. One trip and I was hooked! Their produce and meat selection has much more variety – and seems a lot fresher. Plus, they make tortillas FRESH IN THE STORE. And they have FREE SAMPLES of said tortillas. They’re also really good about offering combos, where you purchase one item and get another item free (usually something that “goes with” the item you’re purchasing). I have to monitor myself and make sure I don’t get sucked into purchasing something I don’t really need – but I’ve found several combos that fit in with things we’d purchase anyway, so it’s a great perk. HEB also has a program for kids that J thinks is pretty fun. When we check out, he gets some H-E-Buddy Bucks that he can use to play a crane game at the front of the store. In the crane are stickers worth different points – these points are collected and then can be used to get prizes. It’s pretty smart, really, because it makes shopping fun for the kids, which makes parents much happier as a result.
My only complaint about HEB is that I have NO clue about the layout of the store yet, so I can’t plan my list like I prefer to. I still roam the aisles, squinting up at the signs and back-tracking frequently to find something I’ve missed. Hopefully I’ll get it down soon, and in the meantime the deals I’ve found make it worth the trip.
Today was a pretty successful trip. My total started off at $116.14 (including $2.85 saved on sale items), and after coupons was reduced to $98.21 – that’s $17.94 in coupons (some from the newspaper, some printed from the internet, and some found in-store) and $20.78 saved overall. I’d like to include a disclaimer that it would have been an even smaller total, except I had to buy replacement toothbrush heads for Brian that cost TWENTY-ONE DOLLARS. Any tips on finding those cheaper? I couldn’t find any coupons… and Brian really wants to stick with that kind of toothbrush. Anyway, I digress… Here are a couple of the deals I found today:
• I bought three 99-cent Hallmark cards (which I had on my list to purchase) and got a cute $6 Easter jelly bean dispenser for free. We’ll save it for J’s Easter basket.
• I bought bottled water (yes, I know, I need to wean myself off of this… working on it!) – normally $3.88 for a 24-pack, but on sale for $3.33. I had a coupon for $1.00 off of two packages, so that made each pack $2.83.
• I bought a small jar of Planters peanuts for $2.87 – almost the same price we buy them for at WalMart – and got an Oscar Meyer Deli Select sandwich free ($2.50). We eat and cook with peanuts a lot, and the sandwich will be great for Brian to have for lunch sometime this week.
• I bought a package of cooked, fajita-seasoned, shredded chicken for $4.99, and got an 8-oz. package of Kraft shredded cheese ($2.18) free. There’s enough chicken for us to use in at least three meals. Normally we cook and season our own chicken, but this was a good deal for us since we go through cheese pretty quickly anyway.
I know that in some cases we could save a little more, but because we’re both working and want some convenience, we spend more for that. I’m also still learning how to get the best deals, but I feel like I did pretty well overall. I want to really work on getting our weekly grocery budget smaller. It used to be $150/week (not including diapers for both the boys), and now I’m trying to keep it at $100/week, but I plan to work on lowering that. If J would just magically get potty-trained, that could knock some off of our spending, too. If only!
Our city has a twice-a-year consignment sale for infants’ and kids’ clothing, toys, books, and all that other stuff you need when raising kiddos. It’s something I look forward to each time for two reasons – first, we sell a lot of clothes the kids have outgrown or toys they’re not interested in anymore, and we make a lot more than we would at a garage sale; second, I find a lot of bargains!
This year I spent $187 and got a TON, including my favorite item of the night…
A Chicco twin stroller! Almost brand new, and only $40. Chicco is an Italian brand, so I had a hard time finding out the value of the stroller brand new. Finally I found it available several places for $189. So, I feel like I got a steal with this stroller.
We’d been looking for a side-by-side stroller for a while. Now that C is older I think he’d like to be able to look around, which is harder for him to do when we use the Graco DuoGlider. Plus, the DuoGlider takes up a TON of space in the back of either of our cars, so if we’re traveling we usually have to leave the stroller behind if we want any room for, you know, clothes and things of that nature. This Chicco stroller folds up a lot more compactly, is less heavy, and is really easy to maneuver. It fits through doorways just fine, which is one concern I had with a side-by-side stroller. And I loooove the bright red with the gray. I’m looking forward to taking it on a test-drive soon!
Another find I was pretty happy with is the My First LeapPad with four cartridges, and ABC game, and a game built in to the system. I bought the set for $10. This system isn’t available new anymore, but I found a similar listing on ebay going for $25, so I’m pretty stoked about it. J really likes it, and it’s meant for ages 3-5 so hopefully we’ll get a lot of use out of it.
I also found this slide at the sale, for $6!
Again, in great condition – and it’s small enough and lightweight enough that I’m fine with keeping it inside. J’s had a lot of fun with it so far, and I think this will be a hit with both boys for a long time to come. I looked this up on Amazon and found it for $34.95. Not too shabby!
I got three pairs of shoes – two for C and one for J. The total for all three pairs was $12, and again, they’re in good condition. They’re Target and Payless brands, but I still feel like that’s a better price than I’d find in-store.
I got three stuffed “animals” for J – Barney, Thomas, and Clifford; and a wooden Thomas bridge – the total for toys was $16. I don’t have photos of the toys, but I found some links. The Thomas bridge goes for $59.99 on Amazon; the plush Thomas is $19.99 new. I couldn’t find links for the particular Barney or Clifford toy I bought, but even just knowing the price of two of the toys lets me know I got a good deal.
The rest of what I bought consisted of clothes – I didn’t keep track of prices on each individual item, but I spent $103 total on clothes.
Here are the clothes I bought for J (if you can’t tell, we’ve got a pretty big Thomas fan in the house):
And here’s what I got for C (not as much, because I still have a lot of J’s clothes that I’ve saved for C to wear too):
That’s 33 items of clothing (some items are sets), so that averages out to $3.12/item. I got a lot of name brand clothing, and all in really good condition. One thing I love about this sale is that they’re extremely picky about quality of items they accept. I can buy things without having to worry about finding a stain or tear.
So, there’s my consignment sale report… for now! I’ll actually be going back later this week for the half-price sale! Not all items go to half-price; it’s up to each individual consignor. And of course you never know what’ll be left – sometimes there’s a great selection and sometimes things have been really picked over. The hunt is half of the fun, though! Wish me luck.