Poll Question

In CategoryNavel Gazing
ByDeb

A few weeks ago, the kids’ swim instructor texted me that he would be unavailable to give lessons in May. We have been taking lessons twice a week with him since January and we all like him very much. Even though Matthew is obnoxiously young (seriously. I think he graduated high school in like 2007. It’s kind of disgusting), he seems to be a natural teacher and he is nice to my babies.

This abrupt text message made me pretty grouchy though, and I may or may not have stomped down into my husband’s basement office for a mini-rant about the irresponsible whippersnappers of today.

…and then felt like a horrible monster about 3 hours later, because when we showed up for our lesson (with a substitute), Matt was there and came over to explain that they had just found out that his mom had cancer.

Horrible, horrible, monster. Dang it.

We saw him at the pool again on Monday, and he came over to say hi to the kids. I asked him how he was doing and the poor guy almost broke down in tears. Apparently his mom had basically gone in for a routine check-up and bam! walked out with advanced stage kidney cancer.

I mean, that totally sucks.

I’ve felt sad about it all week. He’s just a boy and he might lose his mama. I think he’s in his early twenties, but…he’s still just a boy. Boys need their mamas.

After discarding several ideas because they seemed a little too “Who is this Creepy Lady and Why is she Bringing Us Soup,” it occurred to me to knit her a chemo hat.

So, the question is: what do you think about that? I really barely know the guy, so I don’t want to stray into Weird, Entirely Too Personal territory. Does a hat seem too weird and personal? Or thoughtful gesture? My husband thinks it might come across as weird, so I don’t know…

But I have a son, too. And if I was sick, I would want someone to be kind to him.

Thoughts?

Coupons Continued

In CategoryNavel Gazing
ByDeb

Okay, shoppers. This week I finally clipped the coupons out of the papers I have been collecting for the last three weeks and tried to make a grocery list.

I don’t mind telling you, I was COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED when I was making my list. I didn’t know what to do first – make the list, check the sale ads, or go through my coupons. Sunday night I wanted to throw in the towel and I hadn’t even started.

Eventually, I decided to not deal with grocery items at all, but rather focus on toiletries and WalMart-y type items. After all, I don’t really care what kind of shampoo or razors or laundry soap I use, and thought it might be easier to navigate the coupon world if I wasn’t tempted by discounts on ice cream and cookies. My number one goal in couponing is to save money – but to do it buying only things I would have bought anyway. I do not want couponing to interfere with my ongoing food goal of eating healthier. That would be a step back, and one not worth the money.

I hit Target early yesterday morning. The store was practically empty, and when I checked out, I was grateful to have time to hand over my coupons and watch the register without someone behind me sighing pointedly. My shopping trip took longer than it would have, but that was probably because I did not organize my coupons very well. I discovered in the middle of the toothpaste aisle that merely having an envelope called “toiletries” was not the most efficient system.

At Target, I saved $21.76 using coupons. Twenty-one dollars! My total was $115 before coupons and I got it down to $93. That’s almost 20%!

The only thing I bought that wasn’t on the list was a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies – they were on sale and I had a coupon. I would’ve been a fool not to buy them. Anyone can see that.

Encouraged, I continued on to the grocery store, where coupons shaved $11 off my bill. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that is coupon only savings – since I normally shop the sales anyway, I need a clear picture of exactly how much the coupons themselves are saving me. I saved another $43 on sales, for a total of 20%.

In conclusion, coupons only saved me almost thirty-three dollars yesterday. 

I realize that is not some jaw-dropping amount. However, I kept my lists really small and I’m sure my savings will grow as I get more experience. Even if I only save $35 twice a month, that adds up to almost a thousand dollars a year. If I spend an hour a week clipping and an extra hour a week shopping, and I’m making almost $20 an hour for my efforts.

I am encouraged to give this a real try over the next few months.

And now, for the next installment of Nicole’s series on couponing:

I hope some of you have found some coupons in your Sunday papers that you can put toward you coupon stockpile.  I have been thinking hard about those of you that are working hard to provide your family with an organic diet and to those of you that do not use manufactured shampoo, cleaners or soap.  I have a friend that uses items from her stockpile (razors, shampoo etc.) to barter at her farmer’s market.  I have never tried this but it’s just a thought.

Today I want to talk to you about probably the most important aspect of couponing for a frugal living and that is store choice.  Where you shop makes a huge difference in the types of discounts you can take advantage of and how low your OOP or Out Of Pocket total can be.  This week for homework I’d like you to list all of the stores in your shopping area. Include drug stores like CVS and Rite-Aid, as well as supercenters (Target and Walmart) and grocery stores (Hy-Vee, Kroger).

Each store’s chain will have a different coupon policy.  To find out the store’s policy, check their website, ask for a copy at the store, or call the corporate office to have one mailed to you.  Once you have the policies for all of the stores in the area, look at them to see which stores are going to be the best stores for you. 

Key areas I look for are:

  • Does the store double coupons?  If so how much? Do they only double on certain days?
  • Does the store take internet printables?
  • Do I need a discount card to get savings?  How do I sign up for the card?
  • What do the stores do with the overage? (Overage is the “money” left over from the coupon.  For example, bath soap is on sale for $1.60 and I have a $2.00 coupon. Most stores will apply the .40 to the rest of your order; if that is the only item you are buying, you forfeit the money.  Walmart will give you the .40 back in cash.)

After you determine which stores have the best deals, you need to turn your attention to matching up the stores sales with your coupons.  For most stores these matchups are already done, you just have to find the coupon blog that will point you in the right direction.  Start with this link Grocery Store Database and see if your store is listed.  If it’s not, leave a note in the comment section and I’ll do some digging for you. 

Happy Couponing!

Random Monday

In CategoryRandom Monday
ByDeb

• After having problems with our internet service for weeks, it finally got so bad we called The Guy.

Well, The Guy did a little investigating and discovered that the reason we were having trouble is because our neighbor was STEALING OUR INTERNET ACCESS. He brought back the corroded, illegal splitter and showed it to us. I was – am – shocked. The more I think about it, the more disgusted I feel. I mean, it’s one thing to get the wrong change back at the drive-through and keep it in a moment of weakness. But to have to make a LIST and go SHOPPING at Radio Shack to BUY the parts to STEAL something? AND THEN to BREAK whatever security zip-tied cap thingy they have over our wires, CUT into those wires and run a whole line to the house? That’s like 16 deliberate, calculated steps of wrongness. 

And sure, you might say that they weren’t really stealing from us, they were stealing from the cable company – but my husband works from home and when his computer is down, we aren’t getting paid. So they WERE stealing from us. Furthermore, it really bugs me when my computer is slow, so you can’t really discount the Mental Anguish bit.

Turds.

• I read yesterday that Disney has trademarked the words “Seal Team 6” so they can have all the merchandising rights for t-shirts and action figures. I guess some lawyer in some dungeon somewhere heard about Osama’s demise and thought “We can make a FORTUNE off this!” I find it to be obscene. I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t like it. I’m glad the guy’s dead – he was evil. But making money off baseball hats and sneakers because of a connection to that evil….it bothers me.

• Someone found my blog the other day by searching the term “well hung.” I don’t know what to make of that.

• I have Tivo’d the History Channel series How the States got Their Shapes and it is really interesting. Much more interesting than it initially sounds. In fact, I am going to mark this down as part of the U.S. Geography study we are doing this year. All you homeschool moms out there might think of checking it out. Or non-homeschoolers who randomly dig documentaries. I love documentaries. The History Channel used to have a show called Decisive Battles (or something) about ancient battles in history. It was great – computer generated battles featuring guys with long spears. We used to lay in bed on Saturday nights and watch it. 

oh my gosh, I am the boringest person on the planet.

I downloaded Bejewelled 3 onto my new Netbook. I now need a 12 step program.

boring AND geeky.

oh well.

I wonder if they had a coupon for that…

In CategoryNavel Gazing
ByDeb

The guy two doors down from us is a tennis coach at a local high school. Twice a year, his team toilet papers his house.

Twice.

Every.

Year.

Can you imagine? If I was Tennis Coach’s wife and had my house vandalized by teenagers once a year, I would probably not take it well. 

Especially because Tennis Coach is not the one I see outside cleaning it up – it’s usually Mrs. Tennis Coach.

See the giant pine tree on the right?

That’s not Tennis Coach’s tree. It belongs to the neighbors between us – Mr. and Mrs. Public School Teacher.

Those neighbors are not fans of this ritual.

(Yes, this is how we refer to our neighbors. We also have UPS Guy, School Principal, and Vending Machine Guy. I wonder what they call us…?)