We had a very relaxed Easter with a walk to church (good exercise plus it avoids the jam packed parking lot!), simple meals, and plenty of time outside raking leaves and debris out of the garden.
The Easter Bunny had some unexpected success at CVS this week. I bought some nice items for my daughter’s baskets with a 32% off coupon, a 40% off L’Oréal Cosmetics, and a $3.00 off 10.00 on Cosmetics. I haven’t paid much attention to CVS but when I know I will buy a number of things I go check out the CVS digital coupons.
I tried to watch the impulse purchases this week because my last check was only 40.00 from not working over spring break!
We started costing out a trip to Toronto this summer and weighing costs for driving vs. flying. We try to always stay with the same hotel company when we travel to get rewards points, which we have managed to accrue and redeem. IHG has been good for us.
This week I really enjoyed reading this memoir from Elizabeth of the frugalwoods blog. It’s not really a step by step instruction book, more a glimpse of the decisions one couple made to realize their dream of living in rural Vermont. I could relate to the intensity they brought to the financial planning process. If you have visited their blog, you may also enjoy this book. Check it out from the library!
This week I earned 40.00 through my health insurance company for participation in their online coaching for asthma. I checked in every few days and logged information about exercise, diet, and medication compliance. I also got a pneumonia shot through the program. Many health insurance companies have online programs for wellness, weight loss, smoking cessation, diabetes management etc. These funds can be used towards medical copays and other medical expenses. Every year I maximize whatever they offer me. The only one I haven’t completed is stress reduction !!!
How was your week?
School is not out just yet, so how can it be time to go back to school already?! I checked the school supply list for next year and our supplies will be over $100.00 if we buy from a school supply company that furnishes everything in one box, and that does not include the cost of supplies for “specials” like Art, French, Music.
I started preparing for back to school 2016 last year, when I noticed book covers were required in 6th grade and they were on deep clearance in September. Score. I have a box in the closet for future school years so I know I can find the items I buy in advance.
If you want to play along with saving on school supplies, I will post items as I find them.
Next week (5/29/16 – 6/4/16) Office Depot/Office Max is offering a ream of copy paper for .01 cent. You may purchase up to 3. We need 1 ream of paper for our school supply list. The catch is that you do need to submit a rebate, and if you are the kind of person that never gets around to filling in forms, this would not be a good deal for you. I know I will get the rebate filled out, so I am looking forward to checking another item off our list! I received next week’s sales flyer via email. If you don’t see it on the website yet, check back on Sunday.
Memorial Day weekend nears… in the US, this holiday commemorates those who have died serving our country while in the armed forces. It is also the “unofficial” start of summer, with schools finishing up and warm weather beginning.
Memorial Day is also a great time to take advantage of grocery savings! Last year we hosted a family reunion which required us to buy large amounts of soda and beer. The prices we found at Memorial Day were the best we saw that summer. If you have a family event this summer, or a block party, this a great week to check your grocery fliers for prices.
I went through the refrigerator yesterday and checked the dates on cookout essentials, like BBQ sauce, ketchup and other condiments. I know there will be sales on these items, as well as hot dogs, beans, and chips.
My grocery ads come out tomorrow, so I am eager to see what items will be worth picking up. The next opportunity for low prices will be the 4th of July.
Often on holiday weekends we have found there are special promotions on Ebates for retailers like Target, Lands End, and WalMart. Great time to catch a good deal if a new swimsuit, wedding gift, or Father’s Day gift is on your horizon. My daughter is lobbying for a hammock!
If you see special promotions and prices this Memorial Day, please share! Do you have any holiday shopping strategies?
With summer comes a break from employment for me because I work in a school. This past year I worked more hours, and I am thinking about how that affected my behavior with our money.
All along we have been staying debt-free and working a budget, but even within that I can see an increase in ‘buying to get through the week’ kind of behavior – unconscious spending. I can tell I haven’t been as mindful with money when I am afraid to see what the grocery spending looks like when I run a report in Quicken. I haven’t run one in a long time, but did so tonight. It was better than I expected, but lots of room for improvement. When I get lax with our shopping and meal planning, it generally costs us about an additional 100.00 a month.
It’s easy to get in the mindset of picking up convenience items at the store, and saying ‘yes’ to impulse purchases, when you are so busy. Yet, that isn’t really how I want to spend the money I go to work to earn. What I dislike even more than the expenditure, is the unconscious part of the spending. Unconscious spending to me means those expenditures where I say, “Looks good, I’ll pick one up. Why not.” Conscious spending is when I might deviate from my plan, but I do so with intention and joy (and a definite plan to use the item soon).
If any persons think some of the maxims too rigidly economical, let them inquire how the largest fortunes among us have been made. They will find thousands and millions have been accumulated by a scrupulous attention to sums ‘infinitely more minute than sixty cents.’
-The American Frugal Housewife, 1832
Meccas for unconscious spending: Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market All danger zones! I don’t belong to Costco but I suspect that it also belongs on the list.
So, I am contemplating this summer how to find that balance come fall between minding the food expenses and not running around all weekend with coupons and grocery store flyers. Your input is welcome!
I had a great little CVS trip today. I am on the lookout for water and soda on sale because we need to provide these for a large family reunion this summer.
- I bought three 12 packs of Coke products for 9.00
- Two packs of mini cans for 5.98 and
- One 1.25 litre for .99
- Total = 15.97
- Less $5.00 off a $ 15.00 purchase coupon which was in my CVS app
- Received $ 5.00 Extra Cash Back WYB 15.00 of Coke products for a net cost of $ 5.97
I also stumbled onto a deal on TIDE pods
- Fourteen count bag was 5.49
- Less 25% off everything except sale items coupon mailed to my home (-1.37)
- Less $2.00 off Tide Pod Coupon in CVS app
- Less $2.00 off Tide Pod manufacturer coupon Exp 5/31
- Final cost .12 cents
From the children’s book “Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Ben Franklin”
I am turbo-charging my savings mode right now because we would really like to go to England next year. Traveling out of the United States is expensive for a family, so planning and saving ahead is very necessary.
- I had an opportunity to work extra hours at work. I was grateful I already had a meal plan and groceries purchased so I could say yes. Wonderful to earn extra money AND come home to something to make a meal out of.
- Mr. Saver researched our medical plan and found that we could also get preventative dental care as part of our existing plan. We are charged a nominal amount for each service provided (cleaning, oral evaluation, etc). There is a quality dental provider walking distance from our house. We will be able to save up to $ 750.00 a year… money we are currently paying out of pocket by paying without insurance. This mini plan does not cover big ticket dental problems, but then again, we aren’t paying anything extra for it!
- You know me.. I have been charging our phones, doing dishes, and washing clothes using Time of Use rate for electricity.
- CVS sent me a coupon for 5.00 off a 15.00 purchase. I am studying how I can use that to purchase water and soda for a big family reunion this summer (both are on sale starting Sunday). I already budgeted money to pay for reunion expenses, but money unspent is money I can reallocate elsewhere!
- Speaking of coupons, my hair salon is running a Mother’s Day promotion — buy a large gift card, get an additional $20.00 gift card. I budget haircut money out of every check, so I already had money to pay for the gift card, and now have an additional $20!
- Today is “lock in day” at our house. Our daughter requested a day to not go anywhere – just family time at home. Saves lots of money and lets us recharge after a busy week. We are planning some baking, puzzles, and Simpsons Monopoly.
Overall, a pretty good week and a gold star to Mr. Saver for digging deeper into our medical insurance and looking for a new dentist that takes this type of insurance.
I like to save 77%!
When I switched jobs in October, one thing that fell by the wayside was reading the CVS & Walgreens ads on Sunday. My favorite place to check the CVS ad is at the iheartcvs website. Granted, I made more money in my new job than I lost by missing deals at CVS, but with summer on the horizon and the end to paychecks until September, it’s time to get back in the habit again.
I won’t go to CVS just to get a 2 litre of soda for .69 cents, but some weeks the forces of nature and marketing come together to have several deals worth a trip. I look for things that we can use within a few months; I can’t deal with stockpiling toothpaste under my bed. Recent finds were things like:
- Easter M&Ms, 75% off (1.05/bag for the big bag) PLUS I had a coupon for $1.00 off two bags of M&M/Mars products, so that makes two full size bags at about .50 each
- Kleenex – 1.34 each plus CVS coupon for $1.00 off two = .84 ea
- Listerine deal last week, 2/10.00, plus 5.00 back, plus stacked CVS and Manufacturer coupons brought a very low price.
CVS now has an app for Apple users. You can view your offers on the app instead of on those L-O-N-G sheets of coupons that print at the scanning machine. I also like being able to have the cashier scan my card from the iPhone rather than searching for my house keyring. Now through August when you download the CVS app you get $ 3.00 in ExtraBucks. Nice!
Do you partake of CVS or Walgreen’s deals? Walgreens drives me nuts because things are never in stock and their coupon policies are never completely clear to me.
I swear I went to the grocery store every day last week for Kleenex and juice. We’re shaking off a cold virus and it feels good to return to some normalcy.
I had a no-spend, no-drive day today. Walked daughter to school, walked to work. The extra time I saved not running around on errands after work gave me time to harvest some rhubarb, one of the perks of living in a cold climate.
A favorite recipe is Rhubarb muffins. The recipe I use if on the Creative Savv blog. The recipe is wonderful because it isn’t too high in saturated fat. If I make a rhubarb pie or cake I am going to be the one eating most of it. If you can swing the touch of almond extract in the recipe, you will find it gives great “bakery” flavor!
This afternoon I am continuing to plan a grocery stock up trip to take advantage of the Memorial Day pricing on summer staples. This is the time to grab graham crackers, marshmallows, ketchup, hot dogs, chips, pickles, and meats for the grill. My coupons are in disarray so I need to cull through those as well.
I have got to make use of a potpourri of canned beans in the freezer. Does anyone have a favorite chili recipe that uses beans and not too much meat? Crock Pot would be great. Feel free to link in comments!
Our tulip tree
Multi-Hued Zinnias from Our Garden
One of the benefits to having a written budget is that at the end of the week when think you didn’t spend a lot of money, you can quantify that inkling. This week it seemed like we would have unspent money, and indeed we did. This week we:
- Ate meals at home mainly using ingredients that we had on hand.
- Had one nice meal out using a birthday coupon. Glad we took advantage of that because we are still homebound with a sick child this weekend.
- Husband took lunches to work and got creative when we ran out of prepared frozen meals – he took a hot dog and bun from the freezer one day, and loved it!
- I received $ 3.00 from CVS Drugstore to use on anything and I used it to buy dishwasher detergent when I ran out.
- I won an anniversary contest at our local non-chain sub shop and now have a $ 50.00 gift card! Dinner’s on me this week.
- Ran a report on grocery spending this month… we are averaging $ 80.00 per week, which is low for us. I am planning meals based on what is on sale and stocking up when I see lowest prices based on the info I put into ValueTracker. When I say “stock up” I don’t mean Campbell’s soup underneath the bed and pasta in the linen closet, I just mean buying a product to replace the current one I have. Canola oil was one such purchase this week.
- Asked our neighbor if they would mind passing their Sunday coupons on to me. They really weren’t aware there were even coupons in the Sunday paper. I regularly share our Wall Street Journal weekend sections with them so there was a precedent to my asking.
- Free entertainment this week consisted of Daddy/Daughter on the couch watching old Leave it to Beaver episodes (“It’s so weird they let their kids roam around town like that, Dad”), library books, and a good deal of football on TV.
Some of the surplus budget money this week will be set aside for haircuts next week (school pictures are right around the corner). We also put some money towards winter weather gear for child, and savings.