The Queen of Coupons Reigns......

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Free Haircuts!!


JC Penneys is running a stellar, FANTASTIC deal during the month of August!!
All kids in grades K-6 can get a free haircut in their salons inside the store. I actually called and confirmed this tiddly bit, being that I heard it second-hand, and then promptly scheduled our appointments. It is such a great deal...so I wouldn't delay or miss planning an afternoon to get it done if you have kids going back to school. This is going to save me at least $50!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading


I know--it's been awhile. But we're home now and Nate's feeling better...and I'm back to my old habits! I had a great e-mail that I wanted to share today about the summer reading incentives from Barnes and Noble. I love this program! All the kids have to do is read 8 books of their choice, turn the sheet it with the titles, and they get to choose a age-appropriate book at the store counter. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/summer-reading/379003570?cm_mmc=Targeted-_-Misc-_-120523_NH_SUMMER_READING_KICK_OFF-_-summ3-120523_NH_SUMMER_READING_KICK_OFF-_-summ3
I have a couple of kids that complete this challenge during the first week of summer break. I usually have to prod my boys along, but they have accomplished it ever summer so far. Sometimes we don't make it in till the end of the summer to redeem our sheets for the free books and they've been a little disappointed. Beware! The selection and variety of the freebies is severely limited by the beginning of August. But if you have motivated readers and get done earlier (like June ;), Barnes and Noble has a great selection of 5-6 difference books per age range. The best part: the books are current and popular titles that the kids will love!
Happy reading!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Keen Savings on Shoes

I just did something for the first time...I bought a pair of shoes off of www.ebay.com.   Now, I've purchased many things from this wonder of wonders...but never something that I needed to wear or rely on for a good fit.  But I took a risk that is going to pay off in spades!  I've been looking for my favorite brand of shoes--Keen.  They are made in the USA and are a little pricey.  Ok.  A lot pricey.  But they are awesome shoes and fit my feet extremely well.  I have a couple of pair, identical, except one is brown and the other is black. 


I purchased them at Nordstrom's and they have lasted through extensive wear and tear.  But with our recent move...they are somewhere extraordinarily safe, protected, and entirely unknown to me.  In a week and a half, I'm taking a couple of my kids half way across the country and know that I'm going to be doing a lot of walking.  My clogs and flip flops aren't going to do the job.  And I've been thinking that I need to prepare and get my good walking shoes ready to go.  But with utter chaos in the city of cardboard boxes, I decided it would be most sane to just purchase another pair of my favorites!  Who couldn't use another pair of comfortable shoes?

So I hit the mall on Saturday to check out the selections at the European Comfort Shoe Store, Macey's, and Nordstrom's Rack.  I must be searching between inventory reduction sales and new lines yet to come...because I did not find the pair or the size that fit the bill.  Keen's run anywhere between $90-120.  When I'm willing to break the bank and get a pair...I want the pair waiting for me--if you know what I mean!  But I had absolutely no luck on Saturday.  And rather than going downtown, to see if the only other store in eastern Washington that I hadn't checked yet, had a pair--I turned to ebay.

What I found had me leaping for joy!  Because I'm a previous Keen-wearer, I know how the sizing runs and what styles work best on my feet.  I found a range of shoes that ran from $15-100.  Some were new and some were slightly used.  The pictures showed the wear and tear.  The price on many of them included the shipping.  To save time, I narrowed my search down to only "buy it now" options.  I realize that by doing this, it costs me more in the end, but I only have a week and half till I need to fly.  But I was jealous because many of the auctions were ending with people getting stellar deals.  "Newer" Keens for $20-25, including shipping, is a complete bargain!  I found my new favorites in Texas for $29.99, with a "buy it now" price of $34.99.  Shipping is $5.65, for right around $40.  They are brand-new and still in the original box.  They won't be here till Friday or Saturday, and I'm thrilled!!

I was able to glean the colors, styles, and sizes that I wanted to look at by typing my request on their search bar.  The prices varied from very low to full retail.  If I were a patient woman, I would watch the auctions to score the best deals.

I think that I have found a way to feed my expensive shoe appetite.  It pays to "shop" around, even if it means "around" the country!  For the price that I paid, I could easily buy 2-3 pairs off of ebay, versus at an expensive retail store.  I'm definitely going to check out ebay when it comes to shoes for my kids.  I don't know why I haven't thought of this before...but it was a huge "cha-ching" moment and worth sharing!!

So when the dust settles upon my return, I will start looking for the perfect Keen sandals to augment my growing collection.  I only buy a pair of really good shoes about every other year, so this is like ChRiStMaS in April...May...and maybe, June!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thrifty Valentine's Day Gifts!

What do you do with all your filler items that you accumulate when you are doing a hundred small transactions per month at your local Walgreen's and Rite Aid? Like 100 Nestle Crunch bars? You make Valentine's Day hand-outs for the kids!

True Story!! Actually--the Nestle Crunch bars went on sale with a weekly in-store coupon and that were usuable in combination with another coupon from a month-long ad booklet. So between the coupons, they were 25 cents, of which I paid pennies for because they were acting as filler items on my transactions that I used register rewards as my form of payment. There was a method to the mass-purchasing madness....







Because I saw a great idea for making homemade candy bar wrapper labels by copying a picture of a child holding a sign indicating the purpose of the gift.
(Thank you, pinterest...for inspiring the frugal, crafty-side of my mothering experience!)




I took a 33 cent piece of white poster board and painted the token message and took a picture of each of my kids. The madness had a very basic formula that went like this: 100 almost free candy bars+100 classmates+4 digital pictures of kids (made into 50 copies)=100 VeRy CuTe Valentine's Day treats!





The most time consuming part of the whole gig was waiting for the printer to shoot out the copies.




We put two 4x6 prints on each copy and cut them into a 5 1/2"x 5 1/2" square. They fit around the candy bar perfectly and were secured with a piece of scotch tape.



No fussing about filling out the cards this year. No remembering names or finding the list that the teacher sent home. Easy, Peasy, right? It took us about 20 minutes to assemble the slew chocolate bars. I was very pleased with the results...and will be looking out for another great filler deal to make next year's hand-outs with!


[Just a side note, or in this case, a "bottom" note: this is not a "thrifty" project if you don't get your candy for a great deal or have access to a color copier. If this were done at regular retail with the chocolate bar costing 69 cents, the color copy at 39 cents, tape, and sales' tax...each hand-out would cost just over $1 each. That makes a $3 box of cheesy Valentine's seem like a screaming deal. So-check the cost variable first, before you are soaked a lot of cash for something you thought would cute on the cheap!]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Giddy UP!!! It's Round-Up Week at Albertsons!

Round Up week at Albertsons...what does that mean? It's so AwEsOmE--ready for this? All manufacturer's coupons (no quantity limits) are going to be rounded up to $1.00! That means those coupons that you think won't really make that much difference at the end of the receipt...are going to score BIG savings off the total, after all. So, while $1 coupons are great--this is the kind of sale that benefits the little man--as in the littlest price coupons. 10cents, 20cents, 25 cents, 35 cents...all become $1 coupons! [Breathe. Take it in. This could be BIG news if you are a detail-oriented person.]

What does that look like? For example, Campbell's Cream of Something soups are on sale this week for $1 a can. Not a stellar price, or even stock-up worthy. There are coupons in circulation for 40cents off of 2 cans. Now here's the deal: the coupon will automatically be taking to $1 on the 2 cans...meaning that instead of a 20 percent savings of 80cents a can--it's now a 50% savings at 50 cents a can! That's a heck of a deal now!

For weeks that off the double coupon savings...it pays to have the $1/1 coupons that can then be doubled for a savings of $2 on one item. But the key to a GREAT Round Up savings week is to find the lowest valued coupon, say 25 cents off of one item, and then it becomes $1 off of the same item. Another example: Suave Kid's Shampoo is on sale at $1.66 a bottle. There are coupons that save 50 cents on 1. Round that up to a dollar, and each bottle becomes 66 cents each. That is a great price when compared to the regular retail price of $3.49+ a bottle.

For master shoppers, it's all in the planning. For novice shoppers, it's all in the planning. You just have to review the ad and see what it is that you find a great deal and if it's something that your family will use and benefit from. Find the corresponding coupons from your favorite source or reserve...and you are in business! Yee Haw! Save. Save. Save. And since there's no limits--you can buy items in a little or as many amounts you like. It's not a "Buy 10, Save $..." kind of ad.

Have fun and start that three month rotation on items that you routinely purchase, especially when you can get it for 50-90% off!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Starting the Year off Right....Again, again, and again.

I don't set New Year's Resolutions. Never have. Probably never will. I think that life is about progression and evolving into better people then we were last year...and I've decided that I'm not going to keep failing at seeking unattainable loftiness and goals that supersede my present abilities. I just do the best I can within the circumstances I'm faced with. So instead of yearly resolutions, I make daily, hourly, and sometimes--minutely-based resolutions. For example--I decided that if I was going into the cave where a giant of a man was sleeping after a long, double shift on graveyard--I better only going in once. So I put a couple things away, got some clothes, and took a shower while I was in the cave. I didn't really plan or want a shower just then. [Um...awkward.] But my point being that my daily goal and resolution readjusted in an instant because of extenuating circumstances and consideration for someone else.

The reason for not wanting a shower at the crack of dawn versus noon? I was on pinterest again. Not just succumbing to virtual voyeurism, but looking for great ideas for kids lunches. I made huge improvements in the sack lunch department with the new school year starting in 2011. So my lengthy research episodes on pinterest are a totally productive use of time...especially as it has helped me step up the daily grind in the meal planning department and increase the variety in nutritional value of the mid-day meal for the urchins I've been blessed with. I make 25 sack lunches a week. That's FIVE kids needing lunches to take to school for FIVE days a week. Things tended to get a little mundane and boring at times, before I added boxed lunches to our routine. (And just for kicks--I "let" them buy school lunch once every other week. It used to be a weekly event--but with five of them, it was adding up and they were absolutely starving after school).

So I still let them buy lunch occasionally, but the reason is that I give myself permission to take a break now and again. But I get a couple that remind me that I need to make their lunch the next day! Bentos have inspired me to try things besides the classic PB&J and Ham and Cheese sandwiches. In today's lunch, they got rotisserie chicken, lettuce, and cheddar cheese wrapped in a spinach tortilla. I put ranch dressing in the container and filled the rest of the space with pretzels, baby carrots, blueberries, and a chocolate covered graham cracker. Before the box inspiration--I don't think I would have done a wrap-style sandwich for a sack lunch since it would have been a bit "awkward" to wrap and pack. Now I love pinwheel sandwiches and sandwiches on a stick!






Back to pinterest.... So at the beginning of the school year I saw these great lunches being made in Bento Boxes. Little works of art!! And what a great way to introduce and get kids to eat a vast variety of whole goodness! But I'm cheap. Not with food, but with food containers!! I didn't want to spend a fortune buying five bento boxes, because inevitably, one would get lost and then I'd be the mean mom for deciding who didn't get a Bento for lunch! I just don't go there. Cheap=replacable.



But, Bento boxes--I LOVE them!! The ideas are endless and aplenty on websites when you google "bento box lunches". But not to be disappointed in my plan, I came across another fabulous find that creates the box without the investment--Ziploc containers!




I invested in the Ziploc containers that have 3 separate compartments in one container called the Divided Rectangle and are $2.37 for a pack of two at Wal-Mart. They are dishwasher safe, making them 100% reusuable! So I purchased several using coupons for save $1 on two. So they worked out to be $1.87 for 2 containers and I was set to start the Bento Box experience for my kids.


I got great ideas on how to creatively fill the spaces from websites like http://www.muffintinmonday.com/, http://easylunchboxes.smugmug.com/, and http://blog.superhealthykids.com/. There are dozens of other great websites and blogs to research that I found on pinterest...courtesy of great visual aids. I just refer back to them off my board as I look for fresh ideas.



Who knew that hard-boiled eggs would be so much fun in a sack lunch?!? If you put a rubber band around the peeled egg lengthwise--it divets into the shape of a heart! Ummm!! Totally CuTe and how fun that would be for Valentine's Day!



I purchased mini skewers at Cash-n-Carry and started doing fun things like cheese and meat on the skewers. They fit perfectly at an angle inside the Ziploc container. I fill in the sides with vegetables and put ranch dressing in the smallest compartment of the container. Fabulous ideas I've researched have really helped me make healthier eating fun! Fruit Kabobs! Bagel Kabobs! Pizza Kabobs! The Bobs are endless!!


I like to buy ham and turkey from the deli case at Costco that is in the solid chunks. Then I cube them and make my luscious bobs with the variety I want.


I found another FUN idea that I'm getting the sewing machine out to make today!



I never thought of sewing on plastic until I saw a Raisin costume made from black garbage bags and a sewing machine. I must have been so overawed with the garbage bag that I never thought of sandwich bags--but I think that this is a real WiNnEr in the FUN category of great school lunches. Our school asks the kids to bring snacks to eat throughout the day up until 4th grade. Talk about a "talking" point for being just plain creative!

Another friend expressed a conflict of trying to get kids to pack their own lunches and not having the rush to get them made with proper nutritional variety and options. I know that when I've let the boys make their own lunches...I find chips, crackers, pop, and candy as the core of their meal. That requires some Mom-intervention with a sandwich, some kind of fruit or vegetable, and a protein. Great Lunch-makers are not born! They are trained. And I think I've found another way to make this transition easier on the road to responsible children!

I'm totally into freezer meals. But the highlight of my "pinteresting" today: Freezer SANDWICHES!! Holy Cow! Talk about Smart. Brilliant. Fast!!

http://bestorganizingtips.blogspot.com/2011/08/radical-way-to-organize-school-lunches.html
This blogger talks about making lunches ONCE a week--by making all the sandwiches and treats on Sunday night and then freezing them. She wraps the sandwiches and cookies in foil and labels them with a sharpie marker, before putting them in the freezer. The kids just take the items from the freezer and place in the bag each morning. The sandwich is thawed by lunch time and the meal is stress-free! I LOVE her way of thinking and I'm going to start implementing this in our routine as a way to lighten the load. Crazy mornings won't get crazier if lunch is already made and waiting for them!

Not everything freezes well, so I found another website that goes through some of the things that work and don't work. My goal was to make things easier, not gross and wasteful! And it's always good to remember that "homemade" is not always cheaper, but it's better to eat less processed and refined foods when available. http://www.favoritefreezerfoods.com/frozen-sandwiches.html


**I also like to buy the small 1-2oz plastic containers and lids from the Cash-n-Carry that I can put dips and sauces in for fruits and vegetables. And for the really thrifty--the 4oz containers are wonderful if you like to make salads or homemade puddings. A plastic spoon and disposable containers make for easy clean-up and no more forgetfulness! [I know. I know. Totally goes against the green movement. But until it's outlawed...it's still an option ;) ]

Lunch. Not exactly my New Year's Resolution. But definitely something that I've been working on that I've gotten better at. It doesn't have to be boring and mundane. Now--I'm not the note-writing Diva with the beautiful napkins and lipstick kisses on the brown bag--but my kids look forward to lunch away from home as much as when they are home. So I'm satisfied with the improvements for now. I just can't wait to be inspired with the other great ideas that are being shared! New and creative ideas have equalled saving more time, money, and stress for me. So WORTH the effort!!