February 27, 2013

Thrift store oddities

Most of you know, I love to thrift!  I really and truly do.

Yesterday, I had some errands to run to prepare for Ladies Conference.  While I was out, I happened to be near a Goodwill that I haven't been to in a very long while.  It's small, and I figured I could swing in there and see if they had anything neat and then continue on my way.

Typically, I have a "pattern" for thrifting.  I search certain sections FIRST (always) and then, wander to the miscellaneous items after I have searched jackets, dress, skirts, shoes, bags.  However, yesterday, I did something weird. I went to the miscellaneous section first. The miscellaneous section (my term, not theirs) has everything from toys, to housewares, etc.

Well, I stumbled across a little set of pens.  24 different colored pens!  PENS!!!!  I have this thing for pens.  I love them.  I love to collect them.  I love to draw with them.  I love to doodle.  I just like to LOOK at them.  This set would have retailed for over $25, but I got it for $2.49!!

And my 2nd score from the miscellaneous section was a bit of a splurge, as I am not sure I have some place to put it....but it's a SEA TURTLE!!!!  Bob Wright signed sea turtle print for $3.49.  I googled him and a print this size would have retailed for $56!  YAY!!  Isn't it dreamy?  I am going to find some place in my bedroom to put it.  I also have an obsession with turtles, mostly sea turtles.

Admittedly, this is not a typical thrift store score or haul for me, but it made my day!

Do you like to thrift?  What have you found lately that you just LOVE?


February 21, 2013

Couponing: Keeping it Simple and Organized

I had to add this post regarding couponing.

We've all heard about the crazy extreme coupon people who have entire basements, garages and rooms in their homes designated to their "stockpile".  

What is a stockpile?  According to thefreedictionary.com, STOCKPILE can be defined as:  A supply stored for future use, usually carefully accrued and maintained.

While in theory this seems like an excellent idea, it can also be just too much!  Many of these people also donate to local charities or homeless shelters (which I think is awesome!!) and since they are getting some of their stockpile for free, it's a great way to practice your couponing skills AND help your community!

But, let's be realistic...most of us do not have the room, time or patience to invest in this kind of couponing.  I know I don't!  But I am interested in saving money!

So, to get started, here are some baby steps for you:

1.  Read this post:  Poor People Tickets.
2.  Get a notebook/binder.  I happened to have a spare one lying around so, I got mine free!  :)
3.  Get some baseball card pages.  Target has them for $5.  You get 30 pages, which is plenty to get started.
4.  Read this from the Krazy Coupon Lady Site:  Beginners  This is a GREAT site in general, but a very well put together set of info for newbies.  Highly recommend!!  
5. Make different sections for your binder--I used a list I stumbled upon online, but make sure your sections meet your needs.  If you don't have a baby--chances are, you don't need a "Baby" section in your binder (unless you shop for a friend).
6. Keep it NEAT!  Make sure your binder stays organized, if you pull a coupon and don't end up using it (because it wasn't on sale--duh!!), put it BACK!  It is super easy to get a stack of pulled coupons floating around in your binder that never get used because they cannot be found.  
7. Shop when you are going to be the least distracted.  I cannot concentrate and do the math if I am chasing the kids out of the toddler aisle (or cereal aisle), so I have my hubby help me keep them busy when we are out.  I missed a savings of $2.25 the other night because I got distracted.  I was so upset about that!!  Don't let it happen to you. HAHA!!

Most of all, have fun!  Don't let this stress you out!  Let it be a blessing to you and your family as you learn to save money!  And it couldn't hurt that your brain gets a whole new level of workout with all the math you get to do!  Couponing can keep you YOUNG!  (That might be a stretch, but it can't hurt!!) 


February 20, 2013

Poor People Tickets

Yikes!  It has been over a month since my last blog.  I am not proud of that. I have been fighting some major fatigue lately and I think that MAYBE I have finally turned a corner with all that.  

So, what's been up with me lately?  Hmmm...

I started February 1 with a LOVE ME Challenge with my Facebook Weight Loss group.  So far, I've lost 7 lbs.  Now, before anyone starts cheering for me, I managed to put on like 10 lbs over the holidays with travel and what-not (this started just after I got home from Manila).  While most everything still fits, some of it was getting snug and I have Western District Ladies Conference coming up (like next week!!!)

So, like any woman would do, I began a diet and started SHOPPING for something great to wear!  If you know me, you know that this means I went THRIFTING!!!  Every great once in a while, my fellow thrifting friend and I get together for a day of thrifting.  This time, we hung out in MY backyard.  I scored a FAB pair of NEW Vintage flats for $4.99 and a Vintage St. John Sweater for $4.99.  Two great finds!  I hope to wear both to Ladies Conference.  I also PASSED on this super 80s Vintage Betsey Johnson Blazer, but I am thankful that by buddy got a shot of me wearing it!  It is actually more flattering in the photo than on the hanger.
  In the midst of all of this, I started couponing!  I am a little excited about it.  Several weeks ago, I posted a comment on Facebook regarding a prayer a saint prays over me.  In a nut shell, she prays that I find good deals and sales for me and my family.  How awesome is that?!  Well, that really really touched my heart and a new friend introduced me to the world of couponing and I figured: "Hey, I am only gonna find great deals on food and household products if I start using coupons!"  So, a couponer was born.  This is a GREAT hobby for me.  I love to shop.  LOVE IT!!!  But I HATE paying full price.  HATE IT!!!  I am a thrifter and a clearance rack junkie.  I have no shame in that, but I realize that all the money I "save" on clothes for us is WASTED on food and other things we need.  So, it only made sense to start using coupons.  My 10 year old calls them "Poor People Tickets"  which is quite hilarious but not a bad description!  HAHA!!  He is my little coupon helper and insists on being at the register for every checkout to see how good we do.  I've started a teeny tiny stockpile of some items (soap, shampoo, cases of water and cereal) and don't plan on stockpiling too much more than that, as I do still live in a 5th wheel, but I know these are products we are going to use and use fairly quickly.

Here are a few samples of what I have bought and how much I saved:

*Irish Spring Soap (Trent's soap) 3 for $9 with a $3 cash reward on next purchase (so, like 3 for $6)  Making an 8 pack of soap $2 each or each bar of soap $.25!  This will last SEVERAL months as Trent is the only one who uses this soap.

*This "haul" for $8.90:  Swiffer Dusters 16 ct, Swiffer Wet Mop Refill 12 ct, 2 Dove deodorants, VO5 Shampoo and Conditioner and Sara Lee 45 Calorie Bread!!  I had CVS cash rewards (from last week) that totaled $6, coupons and a CVS coupon. The Swiffer products were on sale and the VO5 was also on sale for $.82 each.
*I am SUPER excited about my cereal haul!  8 boxes of cereal for approx $.32 each!  WOO HOO!!!  Target had General Mills Cereals on sale for $2.50 each.  Buy 5, get a $5 Target gift card.  I had coupons for every box of cereal, I had a manufacturer coupon for $1 off of 3 AND a Target coupon for $1 off of 3 boxes.  The Froot Loops were also on sale for $2.75 each.  I had a manufacturer coupon for $1 off 3 AND a Target coupon for $1 off of 3.  With the $5 gift card and all the other coupons, it was like paying $.32 each for all this cereal.
Here is my BEST advice for those of you interested in couponing.  

*  TAKE IT SLOW!  There is no need to stockpile your cabinets overnight.
*  Pay attention and bring your coupons with you EVERY TIME you shop.
*  Do your homework!  This means clipping all those coupons and MATCHING ads BEFORE you go shopping.  I spend a couple hours on Monday doing this and shop when I am out the rest of the week.
*  Get FREE Coupons here:  Coupons.com and CouponSuzy.com.  Check BettyCrocker.com for additional coupons (these are the sites I look at every week).  *NOTE*  You can print multiple coupons per product on these sites.  I just keep going back and clipping them until they tell me I reached my limit.  This is great for deals like I got with the cereal.
*  Target.com has coupons!  AND if you have a smart phone, you can get mobile coupons from Target.  Just add the FREE app to your phone and see what is available.  I got fruit snacks for the kiddos for $.64 on a 10 count box.  :)

For those of you that are ready to take couponing to the "next level":
*  Target will have a coupon for an item and a manufacturer will also have a coupon.  You can use BOTH!!!  I did this with the cereal (see above).
*  Ibotta is a FREE app for you smart phone users.  You get paid to buy products!  It's pretty simple to use.  Buy the item (using your coupons!!!) and then scan bar code and receipt and get cash back!  It goes to an account and you can then redeem the cash later.  Super easy to do!
*  Shop the clearance aisles at your grocery or Target/Walmart.  You can use coupons on clearance items too!  HUGE savings!!

I am by NO MEANS an expert on this, as I consider myself a "Baby Couponer", but I am a convert.  So far, my best savings per trip was 69%!  That's a lot of moolah!!!  If you have questions or comments, please leave them below.  I am VERY open to learning new tips and tricks!

The other thing that will be happening (just a few hours from now...) is that my husband is leaving for Manila.  WITHOUT ME/US!!  He will be preaching a crusade for ACTS Bible School.  I miss those kids but I am so excited for this crusade!  It is going to be awesome!  I am trying to be brave, but I know it's going to be a LONG two weeks for us and a quick two weeks for him.  Please pray for safe travels for him and for us.  I get to take the kiddos with me to Ladies Conference and even though I have a sitter for them, I am nervous about having them with me.

I have a lot of little "projects" up my sleeve to keep me busy (and out of trouble) while Trent is gone.  So, I hope to post some more in the next few weeks.  Stay Tuned!!

PS:  I have another post that is "in the works", but I kept hitting a (really negative) brick wall with it and I do NOT like to post negative stuff on my blog.  So, maybe I can work that out and have a little inspirational something for you all soon!
PS again:  I have two upcoming speaking engagements (which thrills and terrifies me) and I could use some prayers regarding that.  I tend to speak from my heart which leaves me VERY exposed and that is not an easy thing to do.  Thanks friends!!