Monday, January 27, 2014

Menu for 1/27/2014 through 2/2/2014

My last posted menu did not get used as I had intended.  I had a tooth with an abscess that required a root canal.  My mouth was so tender (and still is a bit), that I did not eat much and Jason pieced here and there.  Hoping to get back on it!

Monday:  Pork chops, scallop potatoes

Tuesday:  Potato Soup and rolls

Wednesday:  Chicken Fettuccine, garlic bread and green beans

Thursday(I will not be home): Pulled Pork Sandwiches (crockpot), Baked beans

Friday: Steak and baked potatoes

Saturday: We are going to a birthday party after Dylan's game.

     Breakfast: Pancakes and sausage patties
     Lunch:  We are going to take Dylan to the Yucatan.  He's been begging to go!
     Dinner:  Chili and Pizza

A few more deals.....


4 bags of pizza rolls at $2.48 each
2 bags of Gardetto's @ $0.98 each

Total before coupons: $11.88

Coupons used:
4 coupons for $1.25/1 pizza rolls printed about a month ago.. no longer available to print :(
1 coupon from for $0.60/2 Gardetto's

Total after coupons: $6.28

4 cans of icing @  $1.89 each
5 packages of Bob Evan's maple sausages $1.00 each (Clearance section, but good through 2/24)
2.59lbs of sirloin boneless pork chops
3.91lbs of sirloin boneless pork loins

Total before coupons:  $25.50

Coupons used:
2 internet printables for $0.85/2 icing coupons (doubled to $1.70 off)

Total after coupons:  $22.10, plus $0.75 back from SavingStar on the icing AND since I picked up Jason's beer on this trip (separate budget category and therefore not listed), I can mail in a rebate for $6 back for buying beer and meat!

Buns $0.89 each
Bread $0.99
5 yogurt @$0.39 each
8 cans of diced tomatoes @ $0.59 each
4 cans of chili beans @ $0.59 each
4 packages of taco seasoning @ $0.35 each
2 cans of Cream of Chicken @ $0.59 each
2 lbs of sliced turkey @ $3.29 each
1 bag of red potatoes @@ $2.49
2 bags of tortilla chips @ $0.99 each
1 box of sandwich bags @ $1.99 each
4 cans of chunk chicken @ $1.79 each
2 boxes of saltines @ $0.95 each

Total Aldi purchase:  $36.62

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dashing through the snow for some deals! 1/26/2014

Rite Aid

4 Pantene 2/$7
1 Dove Deodorant $3.50
6 DiGornio pizzas 2/$11
4 jars of Ragu 4/$5
5 Knorr sides 2/$2 or $1.29 each
2 bags of Chex Mix 2/$4

Total before coupons:  $66.04

Coupons used:
2 Buy 1, get 1 free coupons on Pantene from today's P&G insert
1 $2/1 coupon from Rite Aid Video Values for Dove Deodorant
1 $2/1 coupon for Dove deodorant from today's paper
2 coupons for $0.75/2 Ragu from newspaper a month ago
1 Internet printable for $0.60/2 bags of Chex Mix
1 Internet printable for $1.50/5 Knorr side dishes
2 coupons from today's paper for Buy 2, get 1 free on DiGornio pizzas

Bonus!!  6 of the products had $0.50 Rite Aid coupons on them, so I could combine those with my manufacture's coupons!!

Total After coupons:  $35.18.  PLUS, I am getting $0.50 back from SavingStar on the Chex Mix AND I got $17 back in UP+ rewards for next week

CVS Transaction #1
3 Axe Deodorants 3/$14
2 Robitussin $4.99 each
1 Colgate toothbrush $2.99
4 bottles of Tresseme $4 each
2 snack packs of Hershey candy bars

Total Before coupons $48.07

Coupons used:
3 coupons from today's paper for $2/1 Axe
4 coupons from today's paper for $2/1 Tresseme
1 coupon from earlier paper for $1/1 Colgate toothbrush
$0.25 coupon off 1 snack candy pack from red CVS coupon machine
1 Internet printable coupon for $1/2 Hershey snack packs
$16 in ECB from last week

Total after coupons: $11.66, plus$14 in ECB and I am getting $2 back from ibotta for the Robitussin.

CVS Transaction #2
I messed this one up by underestimating my total before coupons.  I should have gotten a $10ECB back on this order for spending $30 precoupon, but I miscalculated and only got $5 back because I spent $29.50.  I did get the other $5 on transaction #3, so I will have to spend it next week instead!

Planters peanuts 2/$6
3 12pk Diet Mt. Dew 3/$10
2 Belvita breakfast cookies 2/$6
3 bags of Snickers Bites 2/$5
1 grab bag of Ritz Bitz crackers $0.99

Total Before coupons:  $31.22

Coupons used:
Internet printable for $1/2 Planters nuts
1 newspaper coupon from weeks ago for $1/2 Belvita
3 newspaper coupons from weeks ago for $1/1 Mars bites
$0.25/1 Nabisco crackers from the red CVS coupon machine
$14 in ECB from transaction #1

Total After coupons: $11.97, plus $1 back from Checkout 51 and $5 ECB

CVS Transaction #3

4 bottles of Pantene 2/$7
Snickers 6pk snack $1 (needed to get the other $5 ECB from Transaction #2)
1 gallon of milk $2.69
1 package of WhoNu cookies $1.99
2 bottles Dawn Dish soap $.99 each
1 bottle of Tide $5.94
1 2 liter of Diet Coke $.99
1 Secret Clinical $7.99

Total before coupons:  $38.83

Coupons used:
1 coupon for a free Secret Clinical (from offer last month)
2 coupons for $3/2 Pantene from Jan P&G insert
1 coupon $1/2 Dawn from Puffs packaging
1 coupon for $1.50/1 Tide from Jan P&G insert
$5 ECB from Transaction #2

Total After Coupons $17.34, plus I have $2 coming from iBotta and got $15 in ECB for next week.

Total for the day?  $77.72, plus I have $15 ECB from CVS, $17 UP+ rewards from Rite Aid, a $0.50 deposit from SavingStar, $1 from Checkout 51 and $4 coming from iBotta.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Short shopping trip for 1/24/2014

These deals end tomorrow (1/25), so you still have time to snag them!  If they are out, ask for rainchecks!

12 packs of Diet Coke 4/$10
6 Speed Sticks @ $1.99 each
2 Planters nuts 2/$6
Palmolive dish soap $0.99
Nutter Butters $1.99 each

Total before coupons:  $$45.30

Coupons used:
3 coupons for Buy 1, get one free on Speed Sticks from last Sunday's paper
4 coupons for FREE coke 12packs from (I have more, but wanted to save them)
1 coupon from the internet for $1/2 Planters
1 coupon from CVS red coupon machine for $0.25 off Palmolive
1 coupon from last Sunday's paper for $0.50 off 1 Palmolive
1 CVS ExtraCare Buck for $10 from Last week's shopping

Total After Coupons, $17.58, plus I got $6 ECB on SpeedStick and $10 ECB on Coke/Food purchase!


Finish 32 count dish tabs $7.99 each (Rite Aid Sale Buy 1, Get 1 Free)
Aveno Men's skincare $2 each (when you buy 5 of the selected products)
1 Johnson's Baby Oil $2 (when you buy 5 of the selected products)
1 Listerine kid's $2 (when you buy 5 of the selected products)
1 Ajax $1.79

Total before coupons: $29.78

Coupons used:
4 coupons from the paper a few weeks ago for $2.15/1 Finish dish tabs
1 $2 coupon from RiteAid's video values (see off 1 Aveno men's product
1 Internet coupon for $2/2 Aveno men's product
1 Internet coupon for $1/1 Aveno men's product
1 Internet coupon for $1/1 Listerine kids
1 Internet coupon for $1/1 Johnson's baby Oil
1 $8 UP+ reward and 2 $2 UP+ rewards from last shopping trip

Total after coupons $2.18, plus had free Ajax dish soap as their Friday offer, so I'm getting $1.79 cash back with them!

I spent $29.90 at Sams' Club on a large bag of potatoes, some Laughing Cow Cheese and $21.22 at Walmart on things for Jason's birthday, including stuff to make his cake, meatloaf and cheesy potatoes.  For the entire month, I am up to spending $220.16.  Therefore, I have $179.84 left for the month, plus I have additional hamburger and chicken in the freezer, plus those huge baking potatoes!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tracking your savings

There are many ways to track your savings from shopping sales and using coupons.  You can use paper and pencil, save your receipts or use a spreadsheet.

Personally, I like a good spreadsheet.  Not good with setting up spreadsheets?  No worries, you can Google coupon savings trackers and try out a few until you find the one that is best for you!

Why track?
Personally, it helps me stay motivated!  Especially on those days I don't feel like clipping or sorting my coupons!  It's amazing to see what you can save when you invest a little time!  If you can't really see what your efforts are saving you, you may be tempted to throw in the towel!  This also helps me track the actual money spent up to the day, in case I had to take money out of my grocery pouch for the kids... it happens when I don't have other cash, I just have to remember to put it back!

No Excel?  No problem! is a FREE program you can download that will handle MS Office documents, including Excel.  Personally, I like to save my tracking spreadsheet to my Google drive so I can access it from anywhere!

The one I have decided to use is HERE .  This allows you to track savings from coupons, ECB/rewards and store sales seperately.  Even shopping at Aldi (with 0% trackable savings), I have so far managed to save almost 90% off retail using sales and coupons.  This doesn't include my cash back apps because as I mentioned before, the money I get back from apps is used to pay for our NetFlix account and buy the occasional gift.  You may choose to put this money back into your grocery budget if you like.

I actually uploaded the spreadsheet to Google drive so I can update it anywhere.  This also avoids needed Microsoft Office or Open Office too!

What to do with those savings?
Probably one of the most common questions I get asked is what I do with my savings.  What savings?  My goal is to feed my family and get all the extra things like toiletries for $400 or less per month.  My "savings" are real and result in being able to eat really well by getting groceries and toiletries at a substantially lower price.  However, there are no excess savings to do anything with most times!

Confused?  Ok, let's say I go to Buehler's and have a bill of $168.  After coupons and sales, My total is $68.  I have saved $100, but I do not have $100 in my hand!  I simply made my $400 grocery budget stretch further!

NOW, if I spent that $68 on December 31 and I've already spent $300 in December,  I'm done grocery shopping for the month so any money I have left in my grocery money pouch ($32)  is true leftover savings. I usually carry this amount over to the next month's grocery budget so I can add to my stockpile.  However, there are times where I would take that extra $32 and put it in the vacation or gift budget instead!

Stick to your budget!  Planning meals around what's on sale and using coupons will help you buy more for the amount you have budgeted.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

This week's menu 1/11/2014 through 1/18/2014

Saturday:  Yucatan ($25 gift certificates from MIL for Christmas)

Sunday: We slept through breakfast and hubby ran away with a friend for the afternoon.  I spent the afternoon shopping, so I'm waiting for dinner :)
       Taco ring (using taco meat from earlier this week)

Monday:  hamburger helper lasagna, green beans and garlic bread

Tuesday:  Beef roast, onions, potatoes, carrots

Wednesday:  Chicken quesadillas, spanish rice and refried beans

Thursday:  Potato soup, rolls

Friday:  Chicken pot pie

Saturday: Meatloaf, cheesy potatoes, corn

Today's shopping trip!

Busy day of scavenging some amazing deals!  Even after all this shopping, I only spent $98.23 today and still have $50.72 of the $200 I took out January 3rd!  And since I bought extra chicken breasts last week, and extra hamburger for this week.. I should be in good shape!

 CVS - Transaction #1
6 12-pk of Diet Coke   3/$10
4 8-pk Diet Coke cans  2/$6
2 Skinny Cow Chocolate Candies $0.79 each
1 Box Cocoa Puffs $1.99

Total:  $37.89
Coupons used:
6 free 12pk coupons from
2 Internet Printable coupons for $0.50/1 8pk of cans
1 Internet Printable coupon for $0.60/1 Cocoa Puffs
1 newspaper coupons (from last week) for B1, G1 Free Skinny Cow
$10 in ECB from last week's shopping trip

Total After coupons: $5.50, plus $0.50 from Saving Star for Cocoa Puffs, $10 ECB for Diet Coke purchase and $.79 ECB from Skinny Cow Candies

CVS - Transaction #2
4 Scott 18pk Double Roll TP $6.99 each
3 boxes of Kleenex Tissues $0.99 each

Total:  $33.18

Coupons used:
4 newspaper coupons from today's paper for $1/1 Scotts TP
1 Internet printable coupon from Hopster for $0.75/3 Kleenex
$5 ECB earned from last week's shopping trip
$10.79 ECB from transaction #1

Total After Coupons:  $12.64, plus I got $10 ECB back for next week's trip!

Rite Aid

4 Garnier shampoo and conditioner $2.99 each
1 Max Heat pain roll on $8

Total:  $21.41

Coupons used:
4 coupons from today's newspaper for $2/1 Garnier
1 printable coupon from Video Value for $1 off 1 Garnier
1 Internet printable for $2 off a Max Freeze or Max Heat Product
$2.50 in Ups Rewards from Last week's shopping

Total after coupons:  $7.91, Plus I got $12 in UPs rewards for next week

Baker's IGA

12 6pk 1/2liter bottle of Diet Mt. Dew 3/$5 manager special
10lbs of 80% hamburger on sale $1.99/lb
2 Grands biscuits $0.98 each

Total: $43.32

Coupons used:
6 coupons for $2/2 Pepsi Multipack bottles
2 Internet printables for $0.50/1 Grands (doubled to $1 each)

Total spent:  $29.34, plus I earned $0.05/gallon of gas off!


2 boxes garlic/cheese toast $1.79 each
1 package spanish rice mix $0.69
1 package chicken/noodle side dish $0.69
2 cans green beans $0.48 each
1 bag baby carrots $1.29
3lb onions $1.49
1 can refried beans $0.79 each

Total at Aldi:  $9.49


4 boxes hamburger helper $0.74 each (wyb 4)
4 boxes Fiber One bars/cookies $1.99 each (wyb 4)
1 can Starkist tuns $1.13
4 jars Prego bacon Alfredo sauce $2.13 each
1 gallon Smith Milk $4.19
1 loaf white bread $1.00
About 4 lbs English Chuck Roast $11.17

Total:  $37.93

Coupons used:
4 coupons for $0.50/1 HB helper (pulled of previous boxes I had bought.  Each doubled to $1)
2 Internet Printable for $1.25/1 Fiber One  bars
2 Internet Printables for $0.60/1 Fiber One products (doubled to $1.20 off)
4 newspaper coupons for $0.75/1 Prego Alfredo sauce (doubled to $1.50 off)
1 newspaper coupon for $0.35/1 Smith's milk (doubled to $0.70)

Total After Coupons:  $21.33, plus I am getting $1.50 back from ibotta, $4.00 back from checkout 51, $2.38 from SavingStar!


5 bags Birds Eye Recipe Starters $1 each
2 Old Orchard frozen apple juice $1.47 each
1 Hillshire Farm turkey $2.50
1 GoGoSqueez applesauce $2.48
1 bag mixed veggies $.98
1 bag of 6 Linder Bagels $1.50
1 10# bag of potatoes $3.67

Total:  $19.07

Coupons used:
5 coupons from today's paper for $1/1 Recipe Starter
1 Internet Printable for $1/2 Old Orchard
1 Internet Printable for $1.25/1 GoGo Squeez

Total spent $11.82

Dollar Tree

2 Kraft Recipe Starters $1 each

Total $2

Coupons used:
2 Internet printables for $1/1 Recipe Starter

Total:  FREE

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New cash back grocery app... Checkout 51

There is a new grocery app available for both iOS and Android called Checkout 51!

Checkout 51 has offers on certain products, BUT it can be used at ANY store!  When I signed up, I got an offer for $2 rewards on my first $20+ reciept submitted.  There was also $1.00 back on any milk purchase, which I can use in conjunction with the $0.50 iBotta offer!  :)

When you get to $20 in earnings, they will mail you a check.

Below is some information from their website!  Enjoy!!

How Checkout 51 works

  1. Browse your offers and buy products at any store.
  2. Upload your receipt using Checkout 51.
  3. We’ll confirm your purchase and credit your account.
  4. When your account reaches $20, you can cash out and we'll mail a check your way.
Using our mobile app? Our designer came up with this pretty How It Works guide to show you how it’s done. You can also skip right to the photo-taking tips!

Key guidelines

  1. Offers go live on Thursdays at 12:00 AM in each time zone. They expire the following Wednesday at 11:59 PM in each time zone. You must submit the receipts while the offers are live.
  2. Offers are available in limited quantities. Please check your offer list before you go shopping to ensure that the offer is still available, and upload the receipt immediately after purchase to avoid disappointment.
  3. A quantity of (1) of each offer is eligible for cash back per member.
  4. Each receipt can only be used once.
  5. We can only give cash back for the exact product listed, so please read carefully.
  6. You are permitted to use Checkout 51 cash back offers with any other coupon or discount unless otherwise stated.
  7. Products must be purchased in your country of registration. (We currently support the United States and Canada, excluding Quebec.)
  8. Receipts submitted must be in English.
  9. Items purchased from online retailers are eligible for cash back. Packing slips are accepted as proof of purchase. Online purchases are subject to the same submission timelines as receipts.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Stay warm!

Everything I have listened to in the past week or so has been geared towards this crazy Arctic cold air coming to Ohio.  You'd have to live under a rock to not know it was coming.

In trying to prepare, here are a few things that came to my mind and are important to keep in mind for any type of situation!

1.  Food.  Luckily with a huge stockpile of food, I could easily eat a month or so without NEEDING to go to the store.  Most of you are not to this point yet.  Year around, I try to make sure I have some pantry meals (meals that only use boxed/canned items from your pantry).  You will find this is very helpful in the event of unexpected bad weather, or unexpected guests!

2.  Meds.  Make sure you have picked up any prescriptions you may be almost out of.

3.  Pet supplies.  Make sure you have plenty of pet food, cat litter, etc.

4.  Backup heating source.  Some people have fireplaces or space heaters.  Space heaters are great if the problem is your furnace, but what if the power goes out?  We picked up some kerosene today, just in case.

5.  Backup lighting.  Candles/flashlights

6.  Radio with batteries.

7.  Water (if you have a well).  One of the perks of city life is that IF power goes out, we still have water.  

8.  Keep your gas tank full!  In these temperatures, if you do have to drive somewhere, it is going to take quite a while to heat up your vehicle!  (And who wants to stop to get gas when it's below zero?)

9.  Special items for kids.  Depending on the age, this could be formula, diapers, baby food, teething gel, diaper rash cream, wipes, etc.

What are some things you do to prepare for bad weather??

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Couponing on January 5, 2014 ...

There are TONS of coupons in today's paper!! FIVE inserts! :)  Don't forget to pick yours up!!

Transaction #1  Hello 90% off Christmas goodies!!
24 bags of plain M&Ms $.43 each
32 bags of pretzel M&Ms $.43 each
2 bags Hershey Kisses $.39 each
3 Coffee Mate creamers $0.41 each
2 Guitars $1.99

Total before coupons:  $30.07, plus $0.29 tax

Coupons used:
28 coupons for $1/2 Mars Holiday products (found in a grocery store blinkie dispenser)
1 CVS ECB for $2

Total Paid:  $0.07, plus $.29 tax for a total of $0.36!!!!  That is a TON of chocolate goodness!!  :)

Transaction #2
6 12pk of Diet Coke 3/$10   = $20
4 8pk of Diet Coke 8oz cans 2/$6 = $12
2 Twix Bars @ $.75 each
2 Nature Valley granola Bars 2/$6
1 Pedia Care $5.99
2 Skinny Cow single chocolate pouches $1.09 each

Total before Coupons: $47.67

Coupons used:
6 coupons for FREE 12pk Coke products (from
4 Internet printed coupons for $0.50/1 8pk of Coke products
1 Internet printed coupon for $0.50/2 Twix
1 CVS coupon for $0.75/1 candy bar printed at their coupon machine in store
2 Intenet printed coupons for $1.25/1 Nature Valley granola bar (No longer available to print)
1 Internet printed coupon for $2/1 Pedia Care from the Pedia Care website
1 coupon from today's paper for 1 buy Skinny Cow, get one free
$10 ECB from last week's Charmin deal
$6 quarterly ECB reward

Total After Coupons: $3.08 Plus, I got the following rewards!

$10ECB back for buying $30 worth of Diet Coke Products (even though I only spent $10!)
$2 ECB back for buying 2 Nature Valley granola bars
$5 ECB back for buying Pedia Care (I actually got paid to buy this to give to a friend!).
$0.50 back from Saving Star for buying 2 boxes of granola bars
$1.09  back from SavingStar for buying SkinnyCow single chocolate

Rite Aid
I had to pop in Rite Aid because I had UP+ rewards that were expiring!  Not a ton of great deals there this week, so...

1 box Finish Dishwasher tabs $3.99
3 packs of Trident Gum $3.00

Total before Coupons: $7.28

Coupons used:
$1/3 Trident coupon from today's Dispatch
$0.25 Rite Aid coupon off Trident (go to and check out video values)
$2.15 coupon from today's Dispatch
$3.50 in UPs rewards from last week's shopping

Total After Coupons: $0.38  Plus I got $1 UP+ reward back on the gum to use next week!

2 Crescent Rolls

Total Before Coupons: $4.44

Coupons used:
2 Internet printables for $0.50/1 crescent rolls (doubled to $1.00 each)

Total After Coupons:  $2.44. Plus, $0.50 back from SavingStar

4 packages of taco seasoning $0.35 each
1 box of flex odor control trash bags $4.99
2 bags of french fries $1.89 each
1 loaf of bread $.85
2 packages of buns $0.89 each
2 boxes of saltine crackers $0.95 each

ALDI total $15.06

All the rest of the goodies above $16.13

So, everything you see in all the pictures cost a total of $37.09, which does not account for $2.09 coming back from SavingStar.  Plus, I already have 2 Christmas gifts for NEXT year :)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Menu 1/4/2014 through 1/10/2014

Lunch:  pizza rolls
Dinner:  Chicken Patty sandwiches, mac & cheese, mixed veggies

Brunch:  bacon, french toast
Dinner:  Spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread

Dinner:  Tacos

Dinner:  Cheesy crockpot chicken, broccoli & cheese  ( I will be working the HMS game.)

Dinner:  Cheeseburgers, french fries

Dinner: Chicken Fettuccine , bread sticks

Dinner:  leftovers OR grilled cheese & soup  (Dylan has a basketball game.  This will be fast and easy!)

*I am still trying to use up some of the things I have on hand, so dinners are not overly exciting this week!  However, this will allow me to save more on groceries.

*If we have snow/wind days, there is cereal or pancakes for breakfasts and spaghetti-Os, corn dogs and pizza rolls for lunch.  I do not usually cook lunches on any day except Sunday, since many afternoons, I am home alone.

Someone asked about beverages.  There is always milk in the fridge, juice concentrate in the freezer and tea bags and Kool-Aid in the pantry!  (I personally am addicted to Diet Coke and fit that into the $400 grocery budget!)

And lunches?  When possible, we both take leftovers.  However, my husband really likes lunch meat sandwiches packed.  As for me, I can take anything for lunch.  There are days I have sandwiches, but I love having popcorn or crackers too!

Friday, January 3, 2014

SavingStar = FREE SkinnyCow chocolate single! MUST add offer to account TODAY (1.3.2013)

Click here to add the Skinny Cow ecoupon to your account

DO IT TODAY ONLY! 100% FREE Skinny Cow Chocolate Single! Must add today, expires Sunday! After adding offer to your account, go to CVS, RiteAid or Buehler's to snag one by Sunday! Make sure your loyalty card is in SavingStar. (Kroger and Giant Eagle will have this too!)

Look for a new Freebie offer from SavingStar every Friday!  

First shopping trip of 2014

LOOK WHAT $7.96 CAN GET YOU!!  (I also have $2 coming back via SavingStar!)

I was going a bit stir crazy after having the flu and being prisoner to the house.. I decided to head out to pick up a few deals.  These were not on my current menu, but at this price, they are a steal and can be worked into future menus, taken to work for lunches, etc!

First stop, Buehler's

8 cans Progresso soups $1.00 each = $8.00
4 boxes of cereal $1.88 each =  $7.52

Total before coupons:  $15.52

Coupons used:
4 Internet printable coupons for $1 off 1 can Progresso soup
2 newspaper coupons for $0.50/2 Progresso soup (doubled to $1.00 each)
4 Internet printable coupons for $1/1 box of cereal

Total after coupons: $5.52 for 8 cans of soup and 4 large boxes of cereal!  SCORE!

PLUS, SavingStar is giving me $2.00 back for buying 8 cans of soup!  (Did my fellow math nerds just figure out that the 8 cans of soup were FREE after the SavingStar??)

Next stop,  Dollar Tree

6 boxes Gain Fabric Softener sheets
4 Kraft Recipe Starter Kit
4 packages of Pepperoni

Total before coupons:  $14.44

Coupons used:
6 coupons from Puffs packaging for $1/1 Gain product
4 printable internet coupons for $1/1 Recipe Starter
2 printable internet coupons for $1/2 pepperoni

Total after coupon:  $2.44

Thursday, January 2, 2014

52 week challenge seem to overwhelming? How about the 365 day challenge?

I have had a few people tell me that although the 52 week challenge seems awesome, they aren't too sure they will be able to do it.  I want you to have some savings, so how about the 365 day challenge?

In the 365 day challenge, you save a penny at a time.  Instead of $1 for week 1 and $2 for week 2, you save change each day in the amount matching the day of the year that it is.  So Jan 1, $.01 goes into your jar.  Jan 2, you add $0.02 more.  January 3, you add $0.03 more.  And so on.... Does that sound easier??

Jump on board with one or the other!  Which challenge are you going to commit to?  Anyone feeling froggy enough to try to do them both?!?

Are you up to joining the 52 week challenge?

I did not come up with this idea.  It has been mentioned in several books I have read and also posted all over the Internet.

The plan is simple.  Every week, save $1 more than you did the week before and by the last week, you will have almost $1400 at the end of the year!  Think of this as a way to pay for next year's Christmas and all the birthdays combined for 2015 OR have your emergency fund by the end of the year!

The nice thing about this plan, is that it starts out at $1 for week one.  This is doable, even after Christmas.  However, towards the end of the year, you are looking at $50/week.  I'm planning to pay some weeks ahead!

What do you think?  Can you do this?  Who is in??

Tracking your budget.. What the heck is a YNAB?

Once you have painfully penned away a budget, you need to find a way to track your spending to see if you are on budget, or over budget.  Here are just a few ways you can track your budget:

1.  Good old fashion pencil and paper.  When I used this method, I kept a separate page for each budget category and worked it like a checkbook register.  I entered in the budget amount at the top of the page.  On pay day, I would "deposit" the amount of money into each category and as I spent, I would subtract.

Obviously, there are some draw backs to this method.  It is a bit time consuming and there are plenty of places that math errors may be against you!  Also, revising it to meet the needs of an unexpected expense can be messy and difficult!

2.  Spreadsheets.  Spreadsheets are a great way to track your budget.  Not all that skilled at creating spreadsheets?  No worries!  Search the internet and download blank budget spreadsheets that other people have created!  Using a spreadsheet takes all the grunt work out of calculating figures and allows for easy editing!

3.  A computer software program.  There are TONS of programs and I have tried many of them.  The only one I can truly recommend is YNAB.  It has been my software of choice for the past 3 years and I cannot see ever switching to anything else.  YNAB?  What the heck is a YNAB?  Glad you asked.

YNAB is short for You Need A Budget.  It is very user friendly and they even offer free online webinars, both recorded and LIVE,  on how to use the software correctly.  The customer service is second to none!  (NOTE:  I am not being paid anything for this review.  As a matter of fact, the people at YNAB don't even know I'm writing it!  I just love and believe in this software this much!!)

If you go to the YNAB website , you can download a fully functional 34 day trial of the program.  After that, it is $60.  That $60 purchases the software.  There are no monthly or annual costs or upgrade charges (unless the software is dramatically updated, which has only happened once in the 3 years I have used it!  They are very good about giving discounts on the new version to loyal users!)

Also with YNAB, you can download their app to your Android, iOS or Kindle device.  This allows you to check your remaining budget amounts AND enter transactions on the go that will automatically sync to your computer at home.  I enter my gas pump purchase as soon as I get back into my car, that way I don't have that annoying $1.00 hold on my account staring at me while I'm trying to remember what my total was!  This is a great feature!

Another very cool thing is that you and your significant other can both have the app on your phones, both enter transactions and everything will sync to your computer via the Cloud (dropbox).

Anyone who knows me knows I am kind of a geek when it comes to my budget.  YNAB caters to my inner nerd by providing reports that are easy to produce and easy to read.  I find these especially helpful at the end of the year when I'm trying to set up next year's budget!

Finally, YNAB is makes it super easy to edit your budget as needed.  It would be nice if we could carve our budget in stone, but we all know things come up.  In the first few months, you will change your budget A LOT!  This is ok, you are still learning.  HOWEVER, you can only budget what you have!  So if your electric bill is $13 more than you budgeted for, you will have to take $13 from some other category that will still leave enough money in that category to pay it!

Obviously, I <3 YNAB!  I would highly recommend downloading the trial and playing with it.  They give you 34 days to try out the software with all its functions to see if it's right for you!  Download it for free HERE .  While you are at their site, check out the support links for some very helpful information on how to make YNAB work for you!

Which budgeting method are you planning to use?  Make sure you come back and share how it's working!  Good luck!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Updated menu... go with the flow!

With the flu hitting hard, we were not hungry/didn't eat most of the planned meals for the last few days of 2013.  Also, we entertained New Year's Eve, so that changed a bit too.  Menus need to be flexible! :)  However, when you are switching around menu items, make sure you are still using up any perishable things before they go bad.  In my list, the items crossed off are frozen or pantry items, so no worry of waste!

12/29 -
Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls
Lunch: Grilled cheese and chips
Dinner:  Cheddar Ham soup and bread machine bread (Using the holiday ham!  I froze the rest!)
(**Toast and OJ replaced breakfast and lunch.)

Breakfast:  cereal/milk
Lunch: pizza rolls
Dinner:  Chicken patty sandwiches, macaroni and cheese
(**No one was hungry, we snacked on crackers, toast, 7 up and OJ)

Breakfast:  cereal/milk
Lunch: chicken quesadillas
Dinner: homemade pizza

We invited people over and I reinvented some leftovers we had in the fridge.
-Tortilla Roll Ups - bought ingredients to make for Christmas, but didn't have time
-Pizza Dip - last minute change.  Saw it posted and I had everything on hand to whip it up!
-Trail Bologna/Cheese - again, bought too much for Christmas and hadn't cut the other ring of bologna
-Buffalo Chicken Dip - always have ingredients on hand to make this!  It's hubby's favorite!
-Veggie Pizza - using up leftover veggies from Christmas Veggie Tray
-Fresh popcorn - from my fabulous machine hubby bought me last Christmas!
-Pop - have bunches of 2 liters left from recent sales.. though most will be bringing their own adult beverage

Breakfast:  no peek rolls
Lunch:  corn dogs and fries
Dinner:  Kraut and Kielbasa with mashed potatoes.

(**After being up so late, we slept through breakfast!  We are nibbling on leftover appetizers from last night for lunch.  Kielbasa and Kraut are still on for dinner, with some mashed potatoes and a side of frozen pizza for me since I am not a kraut kind of girl!)

Breakfast: muffins
Lunch: mozzarella cheese sticks and sauce
Dinner:  Chicken fettuccine, garlic bread sticks

New dinner:  Veggie soup and corn bread.  I had to use up the rest of the veggies quick!

Breakfast: cinnamon rolls
Lunch: chicken noodle soup and crackers
Dinner:  Belgium waffles and sausage