Monday, March 30, 2009

This and that

I'm hitting the Jewel today for the Kelloggs unadvertised specials. Select cereals are $1.98 and I have three $1/2 coupons. I also could qualify for the Jewel milk catalina special. If you buy 3-5-7 boxes of cereal you get coupons for free milk (actually you get a $4.69 coupon for milk which you can apply to the $1.99 milk so even a bigger discount).

The guest room is coming along and I will post photos as soon as it's done. I ironed all the bed linens this weekend and bought a new shower curtain and bath rug. Got both of these at Walmart and was amazed they all matched the comforter set. The shower curtain came with a year's free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine!

I'll be on Spring Break this week so might be posting less. The weather here is far from spring like--we got 6 inches of heavy wet snow yesterday. But the sun is shining brightly and very warm through the windows and there are no clouds in the sky.

Friday, March 27, 2009


After three and a half years I'm finally getting around to working on the guest room.

I don't know about you, but we have very few guests each year since our inlaws live far out of state, and so I lacked any real motivation to paint or decorate this unused room. Part of the problem was simply not having any vision for what I wanted it to become. It's a large room, about 12 x 14 and has its own full bath and lots of windows. It has no furniture really, just a bed on a frame, a wooden rocking chair and some cast off furnishings from our old house when we had a formal living room (I needed someplace for the 30" skirted table with glass top!)

Did I mention the room is painted bright pink? No, seriously, you aren't picturing pink enough. Let me help you:

Pretty inviting guest space, isn't it? Makes you want to stay awhile--provided you are medicated enough.

I decided to get motivated and have it painted (though apparently not motivated enough to paint it myself!). As soon as the painter mentioned his friend the trim carpenter this inspired me to add crown molding to the room because, hey, while I'm stimulating the economy...

This week the trim guys came and the painters are even still here. Because what started as one pink room became triple crown molding, doors, floor trim and then somehow spread beyond the pink room into my son's room and there morphed into repairing corner beads and repainting and, oh yes, FAUX FINISH.

It's the paint fumes. I promise.

So it's almost done. I did buy bedding ( to match the new room:

Yes, the bed is full size, not queen. I have read and read this is a travesty when it comes to guest rooms, but I will be honest with you: I am not spending $500-$700 on an entirely new mattress set for a room that sees occupants twice per year. I figure one day Catherine can have this room to herself and a full with be big enough.

So do you want a sneak peak?

(It looks like the painters took a nap in his bed--no, it will look better when it is all decorated again).
My inlaws arrive in two weeks. I hope they like the new room. I still need to get:
  • A headboard
  • A dresser
  • Curtains
  • Art for the walls
  • A decorating chromosome that will allow all this to come together

At least it isn't pink!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pssst! General Mills panel

Heads up on a free consumer panel to join. General Mills has a consumer panel to try new product samples and receive coupons. I signed up at

I got the heads up from a fellow blogger:

Even if you don't use/want the samples, consider donating them to the local food pantry or shelter.

I love free! I love mail! What a combo!
Also available today: FREE men's Old Spice Bodaywash.
Consider donating to charity if you don't need/want it.
See more free samples at Wal-Mart here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Walgreens for tomato sauce?


Combining sales and coupons you can buy Hunts tomato sauce at Walgreens for pennies a can.


Hunts Tomato Sauce $.39 (with Walgreen Flier Coupon)
$5 (wyb $10) March Easy Saver Rebate (#29) <--- this is the Walgreens saver booklet found in the store in the same rack as the weekly flier)
= $.20 (you would have to buy 26 cans -shelves might not be that full for this rebate)
It is still a great price on Tomato Sauce.

Take that, Costco!

Stop clipping coupons and keep your sanity

The number one complaint people gripe about when it comes to coupons is having to cut them out and keep track of them.

I'm telling you right now to stop cutting them out. Period.

Let me pass along one of the smartest things I've learned in my new venture in the grocery game, and that is you don't actually need to clip the coupons out. You just need to save the entire inserts and only clip the coupons when you are ready to use them.

Nearly every Sunday you probably get a packet or two of coupons in your paper. Typically there are two companies providing these. The first is called "Smart Source" (SS) and the other is "Red Plum" (RP). Just pull these out of the paper (and preferably collect as many as you can get your hands on), write the date at the top of the packet and stick it inside a clear plastic page protector, the kind that will hold an 8 x 10 piece of paper.

Take those two packets and stick them in a binder. See, we haven't even touched a pair of scissors yet.

Now, here's what you do. You head over to and register (free) and click on her grocery deals by state link on the left side of the page. Find your state and your grocery store and up pops a database listing of every item on sale this week, PLUS every SS or RP coupon associated with the item. You can even sort the items by amount you saved. Each item will tell you in which week you can find the corresponding coupon (this is why you MUST date the packets). Often there are also Internet coupons, too. You can search for these on a link to printable coupons on the home page.

There isn't really a trick to any of this. It's just knowing where to go and where to look. You can even read a super detailed tutorial of basic and advanced couponing strategies off the website.

Just remember a few cardinal rules of couponing:

  1. Don't use your coupons too soon. Wait to combine a coupon with a sale.
  2. Don't buy items with coupons you don't eat. Smart, huh? A deal is no deal if you don't like the product.
  3. Consider donating ultra cheap items to food pantries or shelters. If you won't use it, someone else may.
  4. If an item is buy one get one free (BOGO) you can use TWO coupons (one per item)
  5. You can combine store and manufacturer coupons on one item. If Target has a coupon for Progresso soup, you CAN use this with a coupon from Progress on the same item.
  6. Collect lots of those coupon packets. Likely you have friends who toss theirs (only 1% of printed coupons are redeemed in stores). Buy in bulk items you use when they are ON SALE.
  7. Plan your shopping BEFORE you head out. Know your sales and your stores.
  8. Subscribe to a couple great couponing websites, like the ones on my side bar. These women track sales at all the national chains in detail I can never match. Find deals on what you need at stores near you.

Good luck and happy saving!

Wal-Mart Deals from 3/22/09

Be sure to check out this link:

For the latest Wal-Mart deals. I've posted below but want to give Centsiblesawyer the credit.

Some good buys I'll have to check out:

McCormick seasoning packs (taco, chili, etc) rollback to $0.50
$0.25/2 coupon from insert
Final Price: $0.37 each

Progresso Soup, 2/$3
$1.10/1 printable (exp: 3/31/09)
Final Price: FREE

Small box of Arm & Hammer baking soda $0.50
Use with PRINTABLE $1/2 coupon HERE
Final Price: 2 for FREE!
Thanks to Engineer a Debt Free Life!

Muir Glen Fire Roasted Chopped Tomatoes, $1.18
$1/1 printable$1/1 printable
Final Price: $0.18
Thanks, Laina and Deal Seeking Mom!

There are so many deals out there on the Internet. All you need to do is check out some of the links off centsiblesawyers' home page.

I've got to get out this weekend and use the $13 in Jewel food coupons I have from my catalina sales last week!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jewel Catalinas still rolling in

I managed to save 55% on my grocery bill today and took part in yet another Jewel/Kraft foods catalina deal.

I bought 5 packs of string cheese (expire June 09) for $15 and got back $13 in Kraft catalinas towards my next purchase. Kraft 2% string is on sale for 2/$6 (reg. price is $5+ per pack) so I didn't need to spend the $25 out of pocket to get the $10 in coupons (plus $3 more for buying 4 packs of cheese).

Suave conditioners and shampoos and 2 in 1 shampoos are all on sale for $1.66 at Jewel. I used a $1/2 and a $1.75/3.

By coordinating my coupons with sales and BOGO offers (Fischer nuts, for example) I was amazed at what I saved. I LOVE peanuts and they were $3.79 something BOGO and I had 4 $1 off coupons (3/15 SS) so ended up with 4 containers of dry roasted and honey roasted nuts for $0.90 each!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Make your own laundry detergent (the repeat)

Since I posted this on Facebook a few months ago before I had a blog, I thought I would share it again for anyone interested in trying to make their own laundry soap. We've been using this exclusively since October of 2008 and are very happy with the results. If you enjoy playing a bit of mad scientist in the kitchen, you will find this quite easy and fun, too!

First you need a bar of Zote (or Fels Naptha or even Ivory). Just don't use anything with lotion or "moisturizer" in it. I buy this in the grocery store. It's Mexican. It costs about $1 or less.It takes about 5 minutes to grate this BIG bar. If you find a coupon for this, let me know. I've never seen one. By the way, this was bought in Garden Fresh. I've not seen it in Walmart, Jewel or Dominicks (those three carry Fels Naptha). My friend used Ivory. This will also work just fine.

Grate the Zote with a cheese grater into a 5 qt pot.

You need these two on hand. I use one cup of each. More on this later. A box of each will last almost a year.

Addd 6 cups of water to the pot of Zote and stir stir stir over heat until dissolved.

See, all liquefied.

Add the cup of Borax and cup of washing soda. Stir till dissolved. Be sure to sitr WELL as it will clump.

Add this to a 5 gallon bucket. I do it while it's hot.

This is the bucket I use. It's perfectly fine. It never held anything dirty in it. And I washed it out.

You fill the remaining space of the bucket with hot water. And they you put on the lid and let sit over night. It gels to a pretty pink consistency. This much will last me almost 6 months. I use one cup or less each load. Although it looks sudsy, it really doesn't suds much in the wash at all. And it costs be about $2 for 5 gallons of detergent.

The next morning, when it has cooled completely, it turns to this lovely gel. You can stir it up if you'd like, but it isn't necessary. I use one cup (or a half of a cup if not really soiled) per load. You can also transfer some to a smaller bottle and shake it occasionally. After a while I get lazy and don't do anything to it and it still works fine.

Hope you enjoyed this little laundry diversion!
PS: you CAN use this in a front loader. It doesn't really suds at all. I'd just use the same amount you normally use of this detergent.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Goodwill Hunting

A few deals today to share:

Batter's helmet with facemask. Like new. Goodwill: $1.99 (new in Walmart = $20!) William starts baseball next month and this will be a good thing to have.

Decorator topiaries. Nice quality. Goodwill: $2.99 each
Baseball card protector sleeves (going to use them for storing my coupons). Goodwill: $0.99

I thought I'd scored a Trapper Keeper (do you all remember THOSE??) but alas it was not to be.

I went on the way home from work and signed up in store for the ECB card (it's their loyalty care). I used it right away. Colgate toothbrushes free after store coupon (I got a coupon for $2.99 off my next purchase). Turned around and used it in a second transation to buy cub scout treats (on sale and with coupon). Used my ECB discount= free

My husband remarked tonight that I am shopping in stores that I have never shopped in before and isn't that exactly what these stores want? I reminded him that if these stores wanted me to shop there for 50-100% off their items, they needed a new marketing strategy. I'm not spending more money with them, I'm spending less!

Pretty good deal considering my governor announced state income tax increases that will hit us to the tune of $2,000 more next year. Great.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More fun with coupons

As I mentioned in my last post, I'd racked up $13 in Jewel grocery free on your next purchase rewards for spending $14 on cheese (yes, cheese). This time I took advantage of another Jewel catalina sale. Spend $25 on Nabisco products and get $10 off your next Jewel purchase. Here's how it transpired:

4 boxes Wheat Thins (reg. price $4.15) = $16.60

2 boxes of 10 count Nabisco low calorie snack crackers (reg. price $7.25) = $14.50

Total before sale prices and coupons: $31.10

Sale price for above: $21

Coupons: $2

Spend $19 oop and got $10 back

= $9

If I had started collecting coupons earlier this year I could have saved more. With Easter coming, guest and kids snacks for school, this was a deal.

Combining coupons, register rebates, and store sales I save $54.62 off my grocery bill. That's a 37% savings. Sweet!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I used to think catalina was a type of salad dressing....

Just a quickie to share my glee...I participated in my first grocery "catalina" today. Apparently a catalina is that little coupon machine that spits out register coupons at the check out. This was a deal on cheese I learned online. Kraft was running a special if you bought so much, you got $10 back, and if you bought X number of packages, you got another cash coupon back.

It went like this:

7 bags of shredded Kraft cheese (regular price = $4 x 7= $28)
On sale, it was 2 for 4, so I spent $14 ($2 x 7)
Jewel grocery/Kraft catalina required me to spend $25 (regular price) so I was covered, even though the cheese was on sale
Since I bought 4+ bags, I got an additional $3 coupon

total cost for 7 bags of cheese: $14
total coupons received from grocery store: $13 (good for ANY groceries, not just cheese and no min purchase
Total out of pocket: $1

I could have bought 35 bags of cheese for $5 and gotten $50 off my grocery bill (assuming 5 separate transactions at 7 bags each) and donated them to a food bank if I knew one near here that took perishables.

Slightly crazy I know. But simple and hey CHEAP. By the way, am freezing the cheese....


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