Saturday, May 31, 2008

Target Trip

It was a great trip to Target today! Aside from the great deals, I think the best part might have been that my husband took the kids to look at the toys while I shopped all by myself.

Target brand diapers -- $13.69
6 Johnson's Buddies Soaps -- $5.64
2 Dora Bandaids -- $3.94
2 Listerine Smart Rinse -- $8.58
3 Archer Farms Coffee -- $2.97

Total: $35.64
Coupons used: $20.97
Out of Pocket Cost: $14.67

Basically, I ended up getting everything except the diapers for free and the diapers were really the only thing I actually needed today. I also plan to go back this weekend and get more of the coffee. Target's website has coupons for $1 off Archer Farms coffee and many of the stores have the small bags for $1. If your store carries them, you will probably find them by the coffee grinders. I'm a tea drinker but I'll give the coffee to my dad. He'll think it's awesome and will like it even better after he finds out that it was free. After all, he is the man who taught me about frugal living and stretching a dollar.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quick Tuesday night shopping trip

I think this was my first decent shopping trip in almost a month because of the birth of my son. Like I said in a previous post, we have very generous friends who supplied us with meals for 2 weeks. Between those meals, the leftovers from those meals, and my well stocked pantry and freezer I really haven't had to do any grocery shopping besides milk, bread, and produce. So Tuesday I finally sat down and made time to go through my pile of coupons that has been accumulating on my kitchen counter and browsed the e-coupons at Kroger. I plan to go shopping again later in the week and really work the coupons but I needed to get a few things Tuesday night that were going off sale that night.

Here's what I was able to get --

3 jars of Miracle Whip -- $5
2 bottles French's spicy brown mustard -- $3
3 packages of Oscar Mayer hot dogs -- $2.97
4 bottles of Suave Conditioner -- $3.64

Total: $14.61
Coupons: $4
Out of pocket cost: $10.61

It doesn't sound like I saved a lot with coupons but everything was on sale so I was already getting good prices even if I didn't have coupons for some of the items.


2 gallons milk -- $6
Tortilla Chips -- $2.29
4 pkgs shredded cheese (8 oz each) -- $6.00
2 pkgs Always Maxi Pads -- $5.98
2 tubes Crest Toothpaste -- $3.88
4 bottles Pert Plus Shampoo/Conditioner -- $10

Total: $34.15
Coupons: $19.36
Out of Pocket Cost: $14.79

I used the e-coupons at Kroger for the first time on this trip and was pleasantly surprised that they worked. I'm always skeptical about something that has to be linked to me electronically. I prefer actual coupons in my hands so that I don't forget about them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What I've Been Doing Lately

The first picture is of our new son about 4 hours after he was born. The second was taken about 30 minutes after he was born. Yes -- I know they are posted in the wrong order. My mommy brain just can't figure out how to fix that today. He is our fourth child but our first son. His 3 older sisters are excited about him and our almost-3-year-old keeps referring to him as "my baby". And to answer your questions....
1. No, we didn't keep having more children in hopes of finally having a son. We would have been happy with another daughter, too.
2. No, we don't know if we are "done" having children now that we have a son. We prefer to take things month by month and pray for God's guidance in this decision. We are open to having more children if that's what God wants for us. We are devout Catholics who aren't doing anything to prevent future pregnancies besides using the knowledge we have gained from Natural Family Planning (NFP) to recognize when I am ovulating. Maybe I'll write something more on that topic when I have had some more sleep than I've been getting recently.

This is why I've been too busy lately to post shopping deals. We're not really grocery shopping right now except for a few produce and dairy items. We have been blessed by a group of friends at church with meals every other day so we aren't even having to dig into our stockpile of staple items in the pantry and freezer right now. I did make a CVS run this morning (see post below) and hope to be back into the swing of frugal shopping by the end of the month.

CVS Deals for the week of 5-11 to 5-17

I needed to make a run to CVS today because I had almost $16 worth of extra bucks that expired today. I was told at one of the stores last month that they will take them after the expiration date but I have never tried it so I didn't want to take a chance at losing these. I wasn't really organized about this trip today but I'm blaming it on the fact that I just had a baby 10 days ago. So given that, I was pretty impressed that I could pull off ANYTHING related to shopping this week.

Here's the rundown on what I bought:
4 Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste -- $11.96
1 Colgate Total Advanced Toothpaste -- $2.99
3 Adidas Deodorants -- $14.97
3 CVS brand Allergy Medicine -- $11.37

Total: $41.29
Manufacturer's Coupons -- $3.50
CVS Extra Bucks -- $16.96

Total Cost Out of Pocket -- $20.83
Extra Bucks generated from this trip -- $36.34

I spent way more out of pocket than I normally do at CVS but that's OK. It will balance out next time, I'm sure.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Frugal Friday: Financial Goals

Are you setting financial goals for yourself each month? Each quarter? Each year? It's been studied and proven many times over that if you will WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS you will be more likely to achieve them.

Earlier this year I set a goal of accelerating the payoff of our mortgage. My husband received a raise at the end of December that netted us $65 per month so we started putting that money on the principle of the mortgage each month. Then in March I saw that the interest rate on a 15 year mortgage had dropped to below 5% so I contacted a local mortgage broker about doing a refinance. We had a 30 year mortgage fixed at 5.75% so we didn't have a bad deal to begin with. About 2 weeks ago we completed the refinance and are now the proud owners of a 15 year mortgage fixed at 4.875%. Yes, it raised our monthly payment by about $200 per month but we will save tens of thousands of dollars on interest and will have the mortgage paid off so much sooner. We hope to be able to accelerate this mortgage, too...maybe next year we can start that depending on our finances.

My next goal is to shop around for better prices on insurance (car, home, and life). We are currently spending about $300 per month total on all three of those insurance policies and I think I can reduce that without compromising the levels of coverage we have. Speaking of insurance, do you have adequate life insurance? Even if you are a stay-at-home mom? Think about what it would cost to "replace" you as a mom if your family were to lose you. In my case, my husband would want to continue to homeschool so he would need a nanny/tutor for our kids. That's pretty expensive! And make sure you are getting the best value for your money by buying term insurance and not whole life.

One financial goal I have for this year is to start making money through some sort of home business. I've got several ideas I'm working on right now and am planning to use some of our stimulus check to pay the start up costs. When I decide exactly what I'm going to pursue I'll let ya'll know.

So what are your financial goals? What are you doing to achieve them?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rising chicken and pork prices

I read an article this morning (click here) about rising prices for chicken and pork. I have already been trying to reduce my family's food budget by making more vegetarian meals. I'm not really in a position living in the city to raise my own meat. But I COULD raise chickens for the eggs. I've been seriously considering this one for a while now. I just need to find a spot in my yard that would be legal for that. A chicken coop has to be a certain distance away from my neighbors and I'm afraid that the only place that would qualify is where the kids' playground is situated. If I can find a spot for it, I can have up to 4 hens on my quarter acre of land in the middle of the suburbs. Not a bad deal! We've been getting eggs for free on and off from a friend whose children are raising chickens. They just have too many eggs for their family to eat and hate to see them go to waste. I could really give my children great hormone-free protein by feeding them eggs we raise ourselves. I also want to look into raising some vegetables but I think that might be more than I can handle right now. We have horrible clay in the ground and I think I'd have to do raised beds in order to get anything to grow. We do have peach trees and end up with a TON of peaches every year. That sure does help the budget.

So, aside from coupons and rebates is there anything else you are doing or are willing to do to bring down your food budget? How far will we need to go?

Economic Stimulus Checks (again!)

I wrote a while back about Kroger and Sears offering an extra 10% if you bring in your check and convert it into a gift card. I recently found out that Albertson's is also offering this deal and that at least for Kroger and Albertson's that you don't actually have to bring in your check. You just have to buy a gift card in $300 increments. I'm considering doing it at Kroger since we do a fair amount of our shopping there anyway but I'd only buy $300 worth. We are expecting $2100 and I sure didn't want to commit that much to Kroger!