Posted in Uncategorized

Hello YouTube!

Several of my friends thought it would be nice if I recorded my coupon shopping trips. So, I have braved my stage fright and started a YouTube channel to be a video component of my blog. I will be posting both here and there so don’t worry that this page is going anywhere. I don’t know how often I will be posting. (Stage fright galore, it took half an hour and about 15 attempts to record the 1 minute into.) So many thanks to my friend Lorena and her daughter Julia for helping me out.  So I hope you will check it out and I will be posting another post here within a couple of days and the YouTube channel within a week. (I hope). The channel is called Coupon Choice Mom and I hope you enjoy.

.Coupon Choice Mom- The YouTube Channel

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Posted in Shopping Hauls and Couponing Reports

Shopping Report 8-23-16

Whew! I just pulled off one of my best couponing trips yet. Well, my pantry is pretty well stocked, so basically everything I walked out with was from a couponing deal. And there were some pretty tasty deals. Ice cream and popsicles, and sugar cereals, oh my!

Well, I had two main deals to get, Kellogg’s cereal and Blue Bunny ice cream. Giant had the cereals on sale for $1.77 each IF YOU BOUGHT THREE. Don’t argue with the cashier like somebody was apparently doing when I got up to the register. It says right on the sign, must buy three of the participating cereals. The cereals that were participating even had small signs next to the price tags saying $1.77 if you buy three. Don’t say the store doesn’t help you save. The main rule of couponing is you must obey the store’s coupon policy. Don’t be a jerk and ruin it for everyone else. All you did was make the cashier defensive so she was already annoyed when I got up there with my coupons. Thanks a lot dude.

Ok, so first deal, cereal. As I said, Kellogg’s had a deal where it was $1.77 if you bought three. And, what do you know; I had three coupons for a cereal each. Two 75 cent ones for Froot Loops and a 50 cent one for Rice Krispies. Ok, so $1.77 times three is $5.31. All three coupons were doubled and the total off was $4.00. That leaves a total of $1.31 for the three boxes. But wait, there’s more. I had a 50 cent ecard coupon from Giant if I bought two boxes of cereal from Kelloggs, and a rebate deal of 50 cents off two boxes from Saving Star. Also a 25 cent rebate for any cereal from Ibotta. So, including rebates, I spent a whopping total of 6 cents. I don’t think 2 cents per box of cereal is that bad. I’m not sure how much sugar I can handle, so I’m giving one of the boxes of Froot Loops to a friend at work. I’ll eat some of the box of Rice Krispies, but most of it will go to make some treats. Froot Loops will just have to be my morning sugar rush.

Now, if I’m buying cereal I will need milk, which I don’t usually do since I’m slightly lactose intolerant. I can have some cheese or cream cheese or ice cream and similar once in a while. (or more with Lactaid), but drinking straight milk or even pouring it over cereal usually makes my tummy unhappy. But, sometimes the coupons smile on you and you get a pretty good substitute. Silk milk was on sale, and I had coupons. (Why did I point out I have coupons? Don’t I always have coupons?) Anyway, Silk makes many alternate milk products. I decided to try the almond milk. Now, I didn’t know if I would like almond milk, but there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. It’s one of the things I love about couponing. You can try new things for cheaper. You never know what may become your new favorite. Two half gallons of almond milk hopped into my cart for 65 cents each. The sale price was $3.00 each. A store coupon of $1.00 off two Silk brand products and an e-coupon on my loyalty card for the same deal came off first. Then add one doubled 55 cent coupon for each carton. Throw in an Ibotta rebate for 50 cents and you’ve got 2 half gallons of great almond milk for $1.30.

Now for the fun stuff. ICE CREAM!!!! My local Giant just started carrying Blue Bunny brand ice cream, so there was a deal that you got a free carton of ice cream if you bought two boxes of any of the novelty items. I had a coupon for $1 off any two Blue Bunny novelty items and it seems that the small “mini-cones” were on sale 2 for 7. So that makes three dollars each plus a free carton of ice cream. I picked the Bunny Tracks flavor because, well, I like caramel. Which is also the flavor of the mini cones I picked out so I’m not complaining. Anyway, so that’s an average of two dollars for every ice cream product. These are normally over five bucks each, so that’s not a bad discount.

While on the yummy icy treats aisle, I stopped for some Luigi’s Italian Ice. It was on sale for 2.50 and I had two coupons for $1 off 1, so I grabbed a couple of boxes. Now, my freezer is probably going to be stuffed full at this point, so I better leave well enough alone and hit the register. Then I turn around and see that Bird’s Eye Viola meals were on sale too. $3.99 isn’t bad, especially since I had a $1.50 coupon off one in my binder that was about to expire anyway. I grabbed some sweet and sour chicken for dinner.

Although not my biggest trip, definitely one of my better ones, percentage wise. Original total: $42.20, after coupons and rebates $11.60! That’s right, you heard me. 73%! That’s pretty good, don’t you think? I only hope I’ve got enough room in my freezer. Now I’ve got to get home and hide all the ice cream treats from myself before my next deal will be only on Lean Cuisines and mineral waters.

These deals were found at the Giant stores in Fairfax County, Virginia. If you know of a deal I missed there, or if you know a good deal in your neighborhood, please let me know in the comments. Happy Couponing!

 

Posted in Frugal Living

On a Treasure Hunt- Part 2

I’m back.  I know you were waiting for me more anxiously than you were waiting to see if Jon Snow was still alive. Well, here I am, and with a lot less bloodshed.
Years ago, almost every single coupon available was in the newspaper. Well, newspapers are closing all over the place, and that includes the coupon inserts. The internet has taken over. Here are the ways to get deals, coupons, and rebates online and with your smartphone.

Load to Card Coupons

Before I go any further with electronic savings, I am going to assume everyone here has their local store loyalty card. Or even more than one. It’s a good thing to go ahead and get cards for each of the stores in your area, even those you don’t go to that often. That way, when you do end up unexpectedly going, you have a card to get the store deals. Many stores have sales which are only available to those with a loyalty card.
In addition to sales, most stores use their cards for exclusive “load to card” coupons. Giant’s program is called MyGiant and Safeway has Just4U. Once the store knows what kinds of products you buy, it wants you to continue and the competitors want you to try their brand instead. It’s kind of like Catalinas. You just need to log onto the store’s website or app and register your store card. Then you can go to the coupon section and click on the deals you want. The discounts will be taken off at the cash register. What makes these discounts especially great is that the discount is completely automatic, meaning you can use paper coupons (both manufacturer and store) in addition to these deals. Also, I have noticed lately, at least in Giant’s case, that the “load to card” deals are often for products that have coupons available on coupons.com. That is making makes it easy to save big.
And don’t forget, many rebate and points programs can and will use your store card to keep track of point earnings. Since you can often register more than one card with each site, it is another reason to get cards from any store you might possibly use. You will earn points without even trying.
Also, a lot of grocery stores use the cards to participate in some sort of gasoline rewards programs. With your groceries, you might get so many cents off a gallon.  Special deals might get you extra points, so if you get a lot of points, wait until your tank is almost empty to fill and get the most use of that deal.

Websites

The first thing you need to do in getting online coupons is to go to your favorite free email program and make yourself a new email. Yahoo, Gmail, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Make yourself an email address that you will only use for couponing and deal making. Use your name or initials and the word coupons if you want something easy to remember, or just make anything up, it really doesn’t matter. That way, you can sign up for coupons, newsletters, samples, and sweepstakes and your real email inbox is kept clutter free, just check this one when you have some time.
Now that you have a magical couponing email, it’s time to create a magical couponing Facebook page. Use the email to create a couponing Facebook. Don’t use it to like your friends or even link it to your regular one. Just use it to like products. Check your news feed for this one once in a while. Sometimes a product will offer a printable coupon to the people who like them, or even a free sample of a new product.
Now you want to hit those coupon websites. The most famous and oldest of these is Coupons.com. There’s also SmartSource.com and Save.com which used to be red plum. These are simply the websites for the newspaper insert companies but they have additional coupons online. Just click the ones you want, make sure your printer is on, and hit print. Viola, coupons galore.
When you first “click clip” these and hit print, it will prompt you to download a program. Provided you are on the sites listed, it is perfectly safe. (Never download a program from an email, no matter what the deal the subject line promises) The program will add a mark to prevent photocopying and keep track of how many coupons you print. The sites have a limit. For instance, Coupons.com only allows 2 prints per computer. Let me stress, each COMPUTER has the limit. People often have access to more than one computer. Ask your friends or the co-worker next to you if you can borrow his computer for a minute or two.
Now, don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s websites. Here again, your couponing email will come in handy, since a lot of them require you to sign up for a newsletter. But they will also allow you access to exclusive coupons for specific products. If the company has released a new product or even simply a new flavor, you might find more coupons than usual since the company wants you to try it.

Blogs

Many people coupon, and many of them blog about it. Obviously you know this, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
There are many other blogs, and the great thing about these is that not only can you enjoy learning about coupons but you also can find out about deals that you may not know about. You can socialize with other couponers and learn new money saving tricks.  You also can find coupon databases. Databases make it easy to search to see if there’s a coupon for a particular product. They will tell you if one is available and where you will find it. There are so many couponing and thrift blogs, look around and find ones that most appeal to you.

Apps

Whether Android or Iphone, if you type coupons into an app store search bar, you will get a lot of results.  My personal favorites include Ibotta, Saving Star, RetailMeNot and Checkout51. There are many more available, and you may like others better. Some, like Target Carwheel are store specific, but most are not. A lot of them work similarly.  With some you search for a store or product and it will pop up a barcode for the cashier to scan or (if shopping online) a promo code to type in the box at checkout. But many work in a “rebate” way.

The greatest thing about these rebate apps is that they are  completely separately from paper, or even load to card coupons. They are rebates, and you get them even if you got them item free with coupons. Most stores nowadays won’t let you get money back with coupons, but if it’s free and you use a rebate app on top of that, it’s still getting something for nothing.  This is the most common way to “get paid” to take something out of the store.
With a rebate app, you select the product you want before you buy it. Either during shopping trip planning, or while at the store before you get to the register.  After you get home you prove to the app you actually bought the item, usually by taking a picture of your receipt. When the rebate clears, it is added to your account. When you want to cash out, you can either receive a paper check, or allow the money to be deposited in a PayPal account.

Points programs

It’s not just grocery stores that have loyalty cards anymore. Restaurants, coffee shops, and other places have them too. If you go the same place often for a breakfast bagel and coffee, see if they have a points card. Starbucks and Caribou do, and many others as well. My couponing group meetups are often at Panera Bread, so you bet I signed up for their rewards, and have already gotten a couple of free sandwiches.
Always look for points programs, Plenti covers many different retailers to combine points, pet lovers have Purina Perks, there is Similac Strong Moms for new moms, and many others. I love Kellogg’s Family Rewards. You get points for what you were going to buy anyway, and can get some cool stuff to cash in the points for. Why waste it?
My last birthday, I had a ball getting free stuff. A pancake breakfast at IHOP, ice cream at Baskin Robbins, a free cookie from a place in the mall, A&W root beer, pretzel, ….I just realized why I gained a couple pounds on my birthday. Oh, well. The point is, if a place offers a birthday club, it doesn’t hurt to sign up. Just use your couponing email, and make sure to check it more often during your birthday month.

If you’re couponing, you probably like getting stuff for free. Use your couponing email to sign up for sites like Freebies.com, Freebiefrenzy.com etc. These sites will let you know what samples or promotional giveaways are available. Besides samples, I’ve gotten promotional items like a tote bag, mugs, mouse pads, sewing kit and more. A lot of these sites also list current sweepstakes. This is why you have that couponing email, go ahead and enter, you have nothing to lose.

And that boys and girls, concludes my lesson. Hopefully you use these and last weeks’ tips to start finding coupons and starting your own collection. See you in a few days! Happy Couponing!
Posted in Frugal Living

On A Treasure Hunt- Part 1

coupons for blog

 

Today, I’m going back to some couponing basics. One of the first major things every couponer wants to know. “Where &*$%# do you find all those coupons?”  The short answer is, well, everywhere. I know, you were probably looking for something more specific than that. So here are the main ways that you can get printed paper coupons. Of course, you can get even more coupons online and I will go over these in my next post. (Hence, the part one of my title, I promise not to pull a Mel Brooks on you)
The first thing you need to know about coupons is that they are part of any company or manufacturer’s advertising budget. Therefore, when the budget restarts, look for more coupons to come out since they have that allotted money right off. More coupons will come out around the beginning of the fiscal quarter with a HUGE haul at the end of the year. There won’t be as many coupons right before a major holiday though. Manufacturers’ are guessing you will be using the holiday deals to shop for larger household items and they don’t want to waste budget money on a futile attempt to get you in the supermarket.
And on to the little paper treasures.

 

Newspapers

 

While newspapers used to be the mainstay of all couponers, that is no longer the case. But it’s always best to start at the beginning.
Just about everyone knows about the Sunday inserts. Many papers even advertise how many coupons are in Sunday’s paper in the upper corner. The two main companies that put out the inserts are SmartSouce and RedPlum. Once a month, Proctor and Gamble will put out an additional insert. Sometimes each company will put out more than one in a week. On any given week, the number of inserts will vary from none to six.

Papers themselves can be pricey, especially if you’re buying more than one for the coupons. Some Dollar Tree stores carry either the current or the previous weeks Sunday papers. If you are only getting the paper for the coupons, this is a great deal. And don’t forget to check out your local free paper. The Fairfax County Times in my neighborhood often carries the weekly coupon inserts.

A quick warning: When buying the Sunday paper, check the plastic wrapping around the inserts, if it’s torn open, make sure the coupons are still in there. Couponers who resort to illegal and rude methods of getting coupons are rare, but they are out there.

 

Magazines

 

Women’s magazines are a great coupon resource depending on what their focus is. Magazines like Real Simple or Good Housekeeping often have many coupons for household products. Fashion magazines will have coupons for beauty and grooming supplies. All You, which used to be the WalMart store magazine, has expanded and usually carries a wide variety of coupons. Once in a while I will come across a good coupon in a magazine at a doctor’s office waiting room. I’ve never been told no by a receptionist when I ask if I can clip it. Always ask though. And don’t forget about store magazines.

 

Grocery Fliers and Magazines

 

Besides letting you know what’s on sale, usually a flier will have additional coupons. Some of them might be for a one or two day “flash” sale or for extra points on a gasoline program.
Many stores also have a monthly store magazine. For instance, Giant has one called Savory and Wegman’s is called Menu. They are free and located near the front. These will have coupons for not only name brands, but some store brands as well. And since some of them will be store coupons, you can combine them  with manufacturers to stack deals. (More on this later) As a side note, the magazines also have some nice cooking advice and recipes.

 

Blinkies and Tearpads

 

Blinkies are the little dispenser machines on the shelf right next to the product it’s for with the tiny flashing red light. There are also Tearpads which are the notepad coupons also near the products. Now, just because the coupon is there, doesn’t mean you have to buy it right away. It’s there now to tempt you to buy now. The expiration dates usually aren’t right away. Grab a few now and wait until later when the product is on sale to buy it.
Don’t be snobby about coupons. One day Klondike was on sale and I already had a store coupon, but when I got there, there was a Blinkie shining on some one dollar offs. A woman walking past put a box in her cart. I (always sharing the couponing love) called after her “Miss, there’s a coupon here for that!” She turned to me and replied “No thank you, I don’t  use coupons”. I have to admit I was a little confused since she was already buying it and they were right there, and I was stunned by her attitude, so she walked away and paid 3.50 for her box and I got some ice cream goodies for 50 cents.

 

Catalina’s

 

These are the coupons printed out with your receipt. Never forget them. They are usually high value and connected with what you just bought. On occasion they might even be for a general  discount over your next shopping purchase.
It may sound bad, but I always glance over at the self-checkouts on my way out of the store . If no one is standing there, I grab any catalina’s left behind. I don’t know why people leave them, it’s like leaving money. So many people don’t know how cool couponing can be.
Once, I went into a store and saw an empty and closed self-checkout with catalina’s coming out of the machine down to the floor. Well, I grabbed them. One of them was for 5 dollars off my next purchase courtesy of Campbell’s soup as a reward for buying 10 cans. I don’t even usually buy that product, but someone did, and they got me 5 bucks off my purchase that day. Thanks mystery soup person.
And here is why manners always matter. I am always trying to be the southern lady I am and be polite, kind and charming. (Wow, I can hear my friends laughing hysterically from this side of the computer) I know sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I try. Now since I mainly shop at the same store, the cashiers know me and will save me the catalina’s other customer’s leave behind. So many people refuse them, so once again, I reap the rewards. Literally.

 

Packaging

 

You see a lot of labels that say save one dollar now, details inside. They don’t lie, there is a coupon tucked in there somewhere. Sometimes there is one even when one isn’t advertised on the outside. I recently tore open a box of Luigi’s Italian Ice to put in the recycling. Written on one of the cardboard sides was a coupon for fifty cents off my next box. (And it will double) It had no expiration date. Seriously, the coupon says does not expire. That’s pretty rare these days. Once a type of female product was on sale for 1.50 each. Tucked into each box was a 75 cent  coupon which the store would double  As the cashier scanned one, I opened one flap and grabbed the coupon for her to scan for the next box, and so on.

 

Mail

 

If you have a store loyalty card, your store will be sending you store coupons in the mail. This is also where you will get your local coupons from Valpak, Money Mailer or other local coupons. This is your main source of non-grocery coupons. Many restaurants, local entertainment venues, home improvement and repair stores, and even dentists and lawyers advertise with coupons in Valpak.

 

Friends and Family

 

If you want to get multiple copies of the same coupon inserts, you have to ask for them.
Look around for coupon swapping clubs you can trade with. Meetup.com might have some listings. If you can’t find one, start one. It’s a great way to socialize as well as get more coupons.  Grocery stores have community bulletin boards, so put one up looking for clubs. And let me do a shameless plug here. If you live in Fairfax County in Virginia, or you are willing to drive, check out meetup.com and look up the Centreville Clippers. Come on by for a meeting, I promise not to bite.
Let your friends and colleagues know about your couponer status. My friends save their coupons for me, and I often come into work or even back from lunch to find coupons sitting on my chair.
If you are near me in the DC area, we have a huge advantage. Coupon inserts differ by area, especially states. So when you live in an area (like here) where another state can be across the street, you might have co-workers from other states (or districts) to beg coupons from.  Also, any long distance family might be willing to mail you their coupons. Some areas of the country don’t allow stores to double coupons, so those areas might have higher value coupons. If you have family in those areas, ask them for their extras.

 

Where NOT to get coupons

 

Dumpster diving? Really?  Those pristine clean ones you see on TV? Yeah, nope. The cake is a lie. Most bins get covered in slime and the papers are half decomposed within hours. There are a lot less dangerous and (let’s face it) more sanitary ways to get a few coupons. No need to risk infection. Not to mention a ticket from the cops, since it’s usually illegal.
Speaking of illegal, NEVER steal your neighbors newspaper or mail.
Never buy coupons. This is very illegal. Never use “clipping services”. That’s just a way to get around buying coupons.  Either way you are risking receiving what looks like great coupons but were actually printed in Photoshop or something. Using one of these is theft of goods.
By the way, don’t try to snip the expiration date off or photocopy any coupons. The barcodes are there for a reason and the machine senses all.

 

 

As I said at the beginning newspapers are no longer the flying flag of coupons. Nowadays, everything’s on the internet. My next post will be about finding coupons and rebates all over the web.

Posted in Uncategorized

Me- The Sudden Voice of Couponers

Ok, here is just a quick one. About an hour ago, I called into a local radio show. The Tommy Show on 94.7. They had asked couponers to call in, and I nervously did, not really expecting to be put on the air. They mentioned this blog, and I’m getting a lot of hits. I just want to thank everyone who is visiting me for the first time, and I promise, now I will be really getting off my butt and posting more often. Please also check out my couponing group on meetup.com called the Centreville Clippers. I am very excited and hope you all will be coming back to check out more soon!

 

Posted in Frugal Living

My Expensive Emma

IMG_0744

 

Look at that picture. It’s adorable isn’t it? Go on, you can admit it. That face is the definition of adorable. It also is the very potential for going broke.

 

Believe it or not, I know of some people who think that owning a pet doesn’t cost much, especially a cat. Well, they’re wrong, very wrong. You need to get more than food to take care of a cat properly. An adult cat isn’t quite as expensive as a kitten (especially if you have vet insurance) but here is what you need to get for your new kitty roommate. But don’t worry; you don’t have to go broke finding all these things

 

Food (both canned and dry)

Cat and dog food and treats are some of the most commonly seen coupons, so that shouldn’t be a problem, just remember to stock up when you see a deal. You might keep a list of what brands cost what when not on sale so you can recognize a great deal when there is a sale. If your new friend is under a year old, you will need food that specifically says it is for kittens because it has needed extra protein for growth. If your kitten is very little, you might need formula for a couple of weeks. Don’t forget to grab some treats.

 

Litter, litter box, and scoop.

Cat owners know that you can go through litter like water. Ok, maybe another analogy would be better. But any way you say it, you buy litter even more than food sometimes. So it’s a good thing you can find litter coupons everywhere, it really helps with your pet budget. Litter obviously doesn’t spoil, so feel free to stock up as much as you can when a sale and coupon deal is on.

I found some basic litter pans and scoops at my local Dollar Tree. Your cat doesn’t need a complicated one, especially at first while litter training, and a small cat or kitten would prefer a smaller plain one that she can easily get into and out of.

Remember that while litter box training, you will want to keep several litter boxes spread around the house as a small kitten might not be able to hold it in long enough to make it to one main box.

 

Scratching posts

It’s possible to find used cat trees and scratching posts, especially at garage sales and Craigslist. But if many cats used it before, your kitty might avoid using it. I decided it would be better to just buy a basic new one for now. When a local pet store has another major sale, I will check RetailMeNot for extra deals and get a larger one.

 

Cat bed

For a new kitten, a big cat bed isn’t necessary at first. Kittens like to feel snuggled and a cat bed may be simply too large. During the day Emma loves to sleep in a shoe box I have lined with a small microfiber throw. The throw itself was found for two dollars in the clearance bin at my local Wal-Mart.  At night she meows until I allow her onto my pillow so she can snuggle with me instead. Darn this adorableness!

Later on, I will check online for any free cat bed sewing patterns. I have a lot of fabric leftover from various projects and I like to use them in various small projects like this.

 

Hygiene items

All cats need things like claw clippers, dental products, shampoo, and brushes. Your individual cat’s needs might be medicine for flea and ticks, hairball remedies, de-wormers, calming sprays, and others.

I was able to find claw clippers and cat brushes and dental brushes at my local Dollar Tree. There was some flea medicine, but I don’t know how good it is. Although my vet said Emma was flea free, she still gave me some samples of prescription flea medicine that will last for a few months. You might ask your vet if they have any samples of medicine and remedies needed to keep your kitty happy and healthy.

 

Toys, toys, toys.

Toys may seem silly but they are actually very important to a cat’s mental and physical well-being. They both teach and allow an outlet for instinctual hunting, as well as comfort, and a place to chew and fight that’s not your skin. They also get good exercise from chasing a flashing ball or a ribbon on a stick

Always be sure to check the Dollar Tree for cat toys. Some basic ones, including balls with bells or rattles are found here. They even had some small containers of catnip.  More complicated cat toys were found at 5 Below. You can also easily make some cat toys.  Cats love paper bags and anything that crinkles. You can cut up and tape some paper bags (NEVER plastic ones) and create a “tunnel” for you kitty to play in. You cat may also love to chase a ball of crumpled aluminum foil. You can search online for other homemade cat toy ideas.

Another tip:  Rotate your cat toy box. Don’t give all the toys to your cat at once. Keep some aside in a box and switch them out every few weeks when her interest starts to wane. Your kitty will get excited at always getting “new” toys.

 

Health Care

Now I must stress to you the importance of getting vet insurance. Vet bills are very expensive and usually unexpected. At first, it will add some to your budget spending now, but you won’t regret it later when something happens and you are facing a sudden thousand dollar bill. There are many vet insurance programs out there. Embrace, ASPCA, PetsFirst, BestPets and many others. Please check with all programs to see what they cover and how much they are. Not all programs cover routine exams, so you must decide for yourself if you want the extra cost. A good basic insurance for illnesses or accidents is around $15 a month. I have decided to spend the extra for her first year, so that her new kitten shots will be covered, and later I might drop the extra and pay the routine exam  fees myself. I will, of course, keep the main insurance against accidents and illnesses. My previous cat Jewel was very ill the last few months of her life, and I spent a lot of money trying to help her. I wish I had had vet insurance then. Most insurances, (like human ones) don’t cover pre-existing illnesses so it’s important that you buy the policy and get your kitten checked out by a vet before any possible illness symptom begins.

One of the most important and best things to do for your cat’s health is getting her or him spayed or neutered. This is good not only for the cat’s physical health, but your mental one. A cat in heat will constantly yowl and spray all over the place, keeping you up and driving you crazy. Spaying or neutering will prevent many diseases including various cancers. It is thought that unless you are going to get the cat specifically for breeding purposes, it’s best to spay or neuter them. For females, it’s best to spay them at around 4 or 5 months old, before their first heat.

Spaying or neutering is a surgery so you might think it’s out of your budget, but actually there are many low cost spaying programs. Check the ASPCA website to find local vets who will spay or neuter your pet at a discount or even free if you meet the requirements.

Here’s a great way to save on a de-clawing procedure. Don’t get one. This is basically amputating your cats toes and it is completely unnecessary. It’s also dangerous. If your cat escapes, she has no way to defend herself against outdoor predators. If your cat isn’t using his scratching post, try one made of a different material, and gently place her paws on it when you see her begin to scratch something else. Spreading catnip on the scratching post might also help her become attracted to it. There is also a product called Softcaps that is available at your local pet store. These are simple plastic caps that are glued on to your cat’s claws and last for a couple of weeks at a time.

 

Although there are some extra costs at first while you get your starter supplies, if you find used items and shop around you can get some pretty good deals. And once you’re set up, the costs slow down. Once an adult cat, most of your costs are vet insurance premiums, and easily couponed food and litter. A new toy is only for once in a while and a new scratching post might be a once in a year splurge. Budgeting doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the company of your furry friends. Being frugal doesn’t mean giving up a nice quality of life and I have always believed a house with fur on the furniture is a happier one.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Fuzzy Cuddles- The Perfect Root Canal Comfort

Emma closeup

Unfortunately, my couponing time (and money)  this week got derailed by a dental emergency that had me either in extreme pain or completely doped up from the dentist supplied painkillers.

  I would, however, like to introduce everyone to the reason for a new section of my coupon binder. Ladies and Gentlemen this is Emma.  She is a half Siamese, half no one knows 8 week old bundle of cuddles, curiosity, mischief, and to die for adorableness.

So now, I’ll be searching for deals for cat food, litter and other fur-baby necessities. Not to mention comparing pet health insurance. Yes, this is a real thing. But just looking at that face is worth it.

For those of you who are asking, “Are you sure you know how to take care of a cat and what you are doing?” Let me assure you I do. My beautiful Maine Coon cat ‘Jewel’ passed away a year and a half ago after 20 years of companionship and I have wanted to get another cat for a while. I had been to a few cat and kitten adoption events, but when I sat down at this one, Emma sniffed me, and proceeded to crawl up me, curl up under my chin, and fall fast asleep. I guess I got adopted. It looks like this couponer now has her own personal purr machine and nighttime head warmer, and this blog has a mascot.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am being commanded to give some ear scratches to be followed by a round of “Chase the red laser dot”.

Emma in box
Her first hour in her new home she took a nap in the box with her Kitty Kuddler and an Ipod playing sounds of a heartbeat and purring mixed.She was just glad to be out of her carrier and ignored her new bed.
Posted in Shopping Hauls and Couponing Reports

Weekly Shopping Report 5-17-16

Ok, so this week wasn’t my best couponing week. I strayed from the list far more than usual because I saw some good deals. I also had things on my list that I didn’t have coupons for, but I was out of and needed to get anyway. Although this meant my percentage of savings stayed about the same, my actual spending was more than I thought it would be. Also, some of my savings came about by rebates from the grocery apps Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Saving Star. If you don’t have these on your smartphone, I highly recommend them. I will be talking more about them in a future post.
One of my best deal finds this week was Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad mixes. Normally 2.19, they were on sale for a dollar each. I had a discount card deal for 50 cents off two, a coupon for 50 cents off two (which doubled) and a rebate from Saving Star for (can you guess) 50 cents off 2. Which, when you add it up, makes it free. And that ladies and gentlemen is the definition of stacking deals.  *Takes a bow*
There was another deal for yogurt, Dannon Activia this time. You can’t be brand loyal when you coupon, you have to be open to try new brands. They were on sale for 2 dollars and I had 3 one dollar off coupons so a dollar for each 4 pack. Also, Giant had an discount card special that if you bought a name brand, you got a store brand yogurt for free.
I had a store coupon for eggs, so I got them for 1.50 for the dozen. I was also looking at a small rebate from Ibotta for them.  I was out of sour cream, but luckily Breakstone was on sale. There wasn’t much of a sale for spaghetti, but I was out, but a quick search online found a coupon for Kikkoman soy sauce, so at least I saved a little there. There were a few other things which I ended up paying retail for. *shudder*
One of my personal better deals was for feminine supplies. The price was 5.49, but I had a coupon for 2.00 off and a rebate from Checkout 51 for another 2.00 off.
Another good deal that I couldn’t pass up was for Furmano’s canned tomatoes. I still had some left over, but some deals you can’t pass up. Each can was on sale for 69 cents, and I combined it with a dollar off three coupon. Or three of them. So 9 cans cost a total of 3.21.
Another good deal was on All laundry detergent. I like All because they have a no perfume variety, which I need due to hypersensitivity. A 46.5 oz bottle was on sale for 2.99. There was a discount card deal for another dollar off and I added to that a coupon for another dollar. So 99 cents for a 5 dollar bottle of detergent isn’t bad. Then another quick check on Ibotta revealed a small rebate for that too, and 75 cents is even better.
I also grabbed some produce. There was a card discount for 2 dollars off any 5 dollar produce purchase and I got small rebates on bananas, apples, and potatoes from Ibotta.
All in all my total original receipt was $114.28. After savings and rebates, I paid 52.42. So about 54%. At least I got above 50%, which is always my “least acceptable savings amount” goal.
Once again, this was all at my local Giant store. If you live in Fairfax County, your local Giant probably has these same deals. If you find some great deals at another store or in your area, please leave a comment below. Happy Couponing!

Posted in Uncategorized

First Baby Steps to Baby

I think it’s time to catch everyone up. So, let’s go back to the beginning of the story.  No, too long, let me sum up. (Cookies for the reference) I’ve decided to have a baby. Ok, back to long story.
The trouble was, I had no idea in the world how to even start. Well, ok, I knew HOW to start. But the previous evening was spent with a 42 year old lawyer who still lived with his parents so the more traditional way was looking out of the question. Of course he was better than the guy who tried to guess my bra size during our first date and told me that people who live in apartments don’t have real homes, but that’s even more depressing.
I suppose I could say I stood dramatically in the middle of my living room with my fists clenched and raised shouting “How, HOW!” But in actuality, I was curled up on my couch, smoking a cigarette and googling whatever I could think of that was remotely related. (Yes, I was still smoking when I made my decision, don’t judge) What I needed was to find other women who did this. How did they do it? How did they succeed? Are they happy with their choice? And how did they afford it all?
I searched how to be a single mom, which did bring up a couple of helpful sites, including budgeting ones which I will use later, but not what I needed at the time.
I searched how to become a mom, which brought up some not quite as helpful websites, not to mention a couple of questionable ones.
Then I searched choosing to become a mom. Bingo.
SingleMothersByChoice.org and ChoiceMoms.org
Websites for and about women who made the same choice! A whole world of them! I was bouncing on the couch, I was so happy. I honestly didn’t realize how many women were making the same choice I was. I guess more women than I thought were getting tired of settling for anyone just to have a baby before it was too late. I realized I wasn’t alone.
Now these are national organizations and I wondered if there were any local groups or chapters. Since I was already a member of Meetup.com, which is a free resource for hobby and interest groups, I decided to do a quick local search. I lucked out and the very next day I was on my way to a potluck hosted by a member of the local chapter.
I didn’t know what to expect actually. I was nervous. Would they tell me I was wrong? Would they think I was too old? Would they be snobby? Would they be vegan? Yes, that crossed my mind since I had brought two very non vegan side dishes for the potluck.
But when I knocked, the door opened and a woman opened it and greeted me with “Wow, a new face! Great! Welcome!” she sat me on the couch where a group of women were laughing and watching playing children. “So, where are you in the process? Thinking, trying, or pregnant?” Finally, I got to meet women who had made the same choice! And who were happy! And who weren’t crazy! Instead, they were nice and open and willing to give me any advice they could. I got a chance to hold a newborn, something I had only ever done once in my life. I watched to see how he was swaddled and fed.  I learned that when a child says “Thank you for the cake”, never say “You’re welcome, sweetie, actually its zucchini bread”. I never knew a child could look so horrified at the realization she had just enjoyed eating vegetables.
But I did notice one thing that made me nervous. None of them seemed to be hurting financially. They were all executives or lawyers or other professions that involved plush offices and  6 figure salaries (or close enough) When a couple of them started discussing interviewing private nannies, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.
I knew that I probably wasn’t going to get budgeting tips from them. But, as I’ve said before, the lack of a four bedroom house in the suburbs doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t be a good mom. When I whispered to one woman I didn’t make as much as some of the others, she just looked at me and said “If you have a job, you can do it” I realized she was right.  I have a steady job with full health benefits. Many single moms don’t even have that.
I am glad to have met these women. These women give advice and support to each other and now to me. They are helping me learn more about my decision. They are giving me a heads up on some of the challenges that I will be facing. Most of all, they aren’t making me feel bad or weird because of this decision. They know. They understand.
And all of them had great advice.
One woman suggested that I would never go wrong buying a co-sleeper crib, since I wouldn’t have a partner; another told me her story of explaining to her friends, (which turned out extremely helpful later). There was a discussion over different doctors and fertility clinic. This one messed up a lot of paperwork. This one had nurses who had been rude to a couple of the women when told they were single.  But nearly all agreed on the one that seemed to be the best because were friendly and worked with many single moms and LGBT couples.  I wondered out loud if I needed a fertility clinic instead of a regular gynecologist, and was immediately reminded of something I hadn’t really thought of.
I was almost 40. I needed to make sure everything was all right. At my age, I might not even be fertile anymore.
This was actually something I hadn’t considered. I think most women my age don’t think of themselves as too old to have a baby, but in actuality most women over 40 only have a 5-10%  chance of conceiving each cycle without medical assistance.
I also found out my years of smoking didn’t help me either, since smoking can hurt developing eggs. Being overweight was also a minus.
So armed with this new advice (and a little scared to find out the answers) I bravely picked up the phone and made a consultation appointment with Shady Grove Fertility Center.
And my journey officially began.

Posted in Shopping Hauls and Couponing Reports

Weekly Shopping Report 5-9-16

Wahoo! After a couple of weeks coupon hiatus I am back on the couponing wagon. Or have fallen off again depending on how you look at it.

So, let’s see what trouble I got into this week.

I usually only go to one or two stores, and usually those stores are Giant and Aldi’s. Sometimes the Dollar Tree for good measure. These stores are very near each other (and my home) so I’m not wasting gas money driving all over Virginia. If there is a great deal at Safeway, I’ll stop by the one near my office after work.

I still have some basics such as eggs and juices from my recent restock of the fridge so no need for Aldi’s this week, but I did stop at the Dollar Tree for a special deal. A small jar (8 oz.) of Duke’s mayonnaise (which I LOVE) was there and my dollar tree takes coupons. They don’t double of course, but everything is cheap enough without. My coupon was for 55 cents of any Duke’s item and no size minimum was listed. I had five so five went in the basket. That means I got 40 oz. of mayo for $2.25. The same amount in a large jar would have been about $5.00 at the Giant or another store. And since I only open one small jar at a time, the chance of it going bad before I’ve finished an open large jar is so much less. And yes, I grabbed my mother’s day card there for 50 cents.

This week was I was glad of belonging to Giant’s online account. The additional discounts from the specials loaded straight to card went a long way this week.

The big deal of the week: Yoplait yogurt. The yogurt was on sale for 20 for 8 dollars. I had 2 coupons for 50 cents off of 5 (which doubled) and a personal discount from my Giant account on my card for another 50 cents. Since they are different types of coupons, both can be used at once and I bought 10 yogurts for $1.50 total.

I grabbed a Stouffers Fit Kitchen frozen meal for free. On sale for $2.99, I had a 75 cent coupon which doubled and a card loaded discount for $1.50. I will enjoy my grilled chicken and roast potatoes.

A reason to always carry your binder was the Duncan Hines Perfect Size cake mixes. On sale for $2.29 each and you also saved an extra 2 dollars if you bought any 4 Duncan Hines products. Combined with the coupons in my binder, they were only $1.29 each, compared to their usual price of $3.29. This was an unadvertised sale so it was a happy surprise for this chocolate lover. (I did mix it up a bit and threw in a strawberry cake mix with the 3 chocolate ones.)

Chicken thighs were the meat loss leader for the week, so I got 5.16 pounds for $4.59.

For sandwiches over the week, Hormel Lunch meat was on sale for 3 dollars a package, and I had 2 coupons of 1 dollar off of each, so turkey sandwiches it is!

Vlassic pickles will go well with the sandwiches. They were on sale for 2 for 4 dollars and using a coupon for 1 of 2 jars is a decent deal. I’ve seen better, but I’m in a pickle-y mood.

I noticed Tetley tea has a new flavor of tea bags that is a mix of black and green tea. The new product sale and my coupon meant I could try out 2 boxes for $1.50 each.

I also saved with coupons on Magnum ice cream bars and a couple of large bags of M&M’s, and I also bought a couple of tomatoes for the sandwiches. No coupon for those, but they weren’t that expensive anyway

All in all  at Giant my original total was $63.91 but I only spent $24.05 and I saved $39.86.

Now these deals were all at Giant stores in Fairfax County, Virginia. If you found a great deal at another store or one closer to your area, please leave a comment below and share the information wealth. Happy Couponing!