Getting Our House In Order

My name is Meg and I live in Buffalo NY with my husband Andrew and our cat Jake.
We are working on getting our house in order by saving money, getting organized, and simplifying things.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I don't think I am going to shop at all this week.

Really?  Yup.  I'm going to try and stay out of the stores.  There are actually a few good deals this week (Free Contact Solution at rite aid, free chapstick at walgreens) but truthfully, I don't really need anything.  I am going to use this week to get organized and do that inventory I talked about yesterday.  I will need to pop into the grocery store, so I will post if I get any deals there. I am trying to learn the system at Tops.  It seems to be the best place for couponing.  I LOVE Wegmans, but they don't really do great sales, and focus a lot on their own brands.  It's interesting.  They do have Wegmans lists on the grocery game, but the deals are really just so so for the most part.
I'll update you on my progress as I do my inventory, and let you know of any great deals if I break! :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fun and relaxing today!

Today is one of those rare Saturdays. I've got nothing major planned, and we are just going to have fun and relax.  We have tickets to go see Avatar at the Imax this afternoon.  I picked them up yesterday to make sure we would get in, since its been sold out the last few weeks.  I can't wait! 
I've been reading some of my favorite blogs this morning, and I'm trying to figure out how to make this blog better.  I have a lot to learn about blogging!
I am trying to come up with a list of things I want to blog about, so I can make sure I write everyday. If anyone ever starts reading, I want to give them a reason to come back! 
There are posts with previews for next weeks deals out there.  I am taking the day off from deal planning.  I really need to get a bit more organized and inventory what I have.  Even though I have gotten great deals on free and cheap HBA's and groceries, I am starting to get overwhelmed by STUFF!!  I need to take an inventory and decide what things I absolutely do not need to bring into this house until we go through our stockpile! The stuff is no good to anyone if it goes to waste becasue I didn't know we had it and keep buying more. 
If you haven't guessed by now...Organizing is a skill I need to work on.  Oh how I wish I were one of those natural organizers!  But Alas, I am not.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Walgreens trip yesterday

OK Here's what I got at Walgreens yesterday:
Olay Quench Lotion $7.99 (I used $2 off olay lotion coupon)
Olay in shower lotion FREE with purchase above
8 valentines gift bags $1.00 with Wags coupon in the circular
2 Ponds face cloths $6.29 Buy One Get One Free
No coupon for these, but I love them! Especially when I travel since they can go in my carry on!
2 Pert Plus  2/$5  I used $1.50 off and $1 off from this weeks sunday paper
Reynolds Foil .89 with Wags Coupon
4 ZipLoc bags 2/$5 with Wags Coupon plus I used 2 $1.50 off 2 printables
 I also used $14 in register rewards from last week.
Total out of pocket including tax was$12.40
I got $2 in register reward
Plus I'll get $6.99 from the Olay Mail in Rebate.
I could have also sent in for $5 SC Johnson rebate for the ziploc bags, but I forgot to have them rung up separately so I could have a receipt to mail in. Rats!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Whats on my list this week?

I got home from Austin yesterday afternoon.  I reviewed the ads and honestly, I was underwhelmed at the deals this week.  That is fine with me.  I don't need much and its good to have a break.
It's looking like a Walgreens week.

Here's my list
Ponds facial cloths BOGO (I need to find a coupon or 2 for this!)
Pert (coupon in the paper plus RRs)
Ziploc bags (sale plus coupons plus MIR)
Quench Lotion (get a free shower gel plus coupon plus MIR)
Cottonelle (Wags coupon plus man coupon plus we NEED TP)
Reynolds Wrap (wags coupon)
9V batteries (Wags are BOGO)
This is my plan.  I'll post results after I actually shop.


For the past few days, I have been thinking about gratitude.  Probably because it seems the universe wants it on my mind. I heard it on the radio, read it in books and magazines while I was traveling.  Sometimes the signs are all there, you just need to notice them.  This time its pretty obvious.   I need to take a step back and appreciate all that I have.  Be grateful.
I have a lot to be grateful for in my life.  If I really think about it, I have an embarassment of riches.  I have a wonderful husband, a loving and supportive family, friends.  I have a good job, the opportunity to see the country through my business travel, an income that pays our bills and helps us prepare for the future.  I have a great place home and I live in a great city.  I am truly blessed.
This project...getting my figurative house in really a lesson in gratitude.  It is one thing to acknowledge all the good in ones life.  It is another thing to honor it all by taking better care of it.  I want to be a good steward of all I have received.
Think about your life today.  Everyone had problems, sure.  Some are so overwhelming, they seem to take  over your entire life.  Believe me , I've been there. But today I challenge you.  Take a step back and look at the good.  There is ALWAYS something, no matter how small.  Focus there.  Watch what happens.  And keep an eye out for signs.  The universe talks to everyone.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Let's Talk about Budgeting

No!! Please!!  When I think about budgeting, I get all childish and rebellious.  I'm sure a lot of people are like that.  But over the past few years, I slowly came to realize that flying by the seat of our pants was not serving us well, and we would have to do something if we ever wanted to get ahead.
I am a firm believer in small steps.  If you find something to be huge and overwhelming, break it down and just do one tiny thing!
For me the one tiny thing was to get organized.  When I sat down and actually looked at what I had I realized that my biggest problem wasn't a lack of money. It was that I didn't know what bills were due when. My system was that I had no system, and things were all hapharzard.  I was paying late fees I didn't need to be paying, and I was sick of it.
So I got a calendar.  I marked all my paydays on it, and I wrote down what bills I would pay on those days. And it worked. That onw tiny little thing got me started.  I was paying attention.  It was good.
At this point, I have quite a few of my bills set up to pay automatically.  But I still cross them off my calendar when they hit.
At some point in the future, I want to take things the next step and actually name every dollar before it goes out. Create a real grown up budget that tells where everything goes, including the variable monthly expenses and savings, both for retirement and our goals, like buying a house. But for now, things work.  The bills are getting paid, and a little is going into savings every pay period.  I invest in my companies 401k plan and I am saving money on our groceries. That is good.
As a next step I am going to refine our savings plan. 
Stay tuned as I figure that out.  It should be interesting!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Walgreens Today

 I have the day off of work today, becasue I have to travel to Austin TX and work this weekend.  I took the time to go to Walgreens to use up some register rewards that would have expired before I got back.
Here's what I got:
3 12 packs of Pepsi  3/$12
2 Tostitos Scoops 2/$5
2 Tostitos Salsa 2/$5
1 Lipton Green Tea $2.99
1 Theraflu $3.99
1 Welches Grape Jelly 2/$5  (I only bought 1, so $1.50)
I used the following coupons
.75 of any welches
$2 off Theraflu (from
$13 in register rewards
Total spent $17.58
Not bad.
I got back $14 in register rewards ($10 from the pepsi/tostitos deal, $4 from the lipton/theraflu deal)
I will also get $7.50 from a mail in rebate for the pepsi/tostitos.
I only count register rewards against my total when I use them to make a purchase. Some count them when they earn them.  I try to count my true Out of Pocket expense.  I am new to doing mail in rebates (more about that another time) and my plan is to take any checks I get from them and put them in the savings account.  I will keep a tally and decide if it is worth it!

Why Coupons?

Why do I use coupons? Simple...I like to pay less for things.  Honestly, who doesn't?  I've used coupons for years, but only in the last year or so have I discovered how to do it really effectively.
For years, I used coupons like many people do.  If I had a Sunday paper, or saw some in a magazine, I might cut them out.  Then if I'd remembered to put them in my purse, and had some things in my cart that matched up, and then remembered to actually use them, I might save a few bucks on my grocery bill. I was perfectly content with that.  I was happy to be paying less, even if it was only a few bucks here and there.
Then one day my husband and I were watching the Food Network. If we saw a recipe we'd like to try, I would run out and buy all the ingredients on the fly to make it right then.  A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon (though not so great for the grocery budget!), and something we enjoy doing together.  More on that another time...
Anyway...We saw a story about something called "The Grocery Game". There was a woman who had a system.She would go to the store and get carts full of groceries for practically nothing.  It got my attention. Mostly becasue I didn't believe it was possible, and secondly I thought even if it was, it couldn't work for me, since I don't have a big family to shop for.
At some point,(I couldn't get this thing out of my mind!) I decided to look up the grocery game online.  Sure enough, I found I could buy a subscription and get lists of deals from local stores.  I was a bit disapointed to find that the only stores in my area to get lists for were CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid.  I didn't do any shopping there.  Those stores were too expensive! Or so I thought!  But they had a trial offer. $1 for a month of lists.  I signed up, deciding this was probably not going to work, but I'd give it a try.  That was the beginning.  One of the best decisions I ever made.
I read all the rules, and scoured the site and the forums for tips and tricks.  I discovered that there were coupons you could print right off the internet! I learned that there were a lot of things that I had no clue about when it came to getting great deals. For example, I never knew you could combine a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon on the same item. That one piece of information has saved me a lot more than  the few dollars I spent on the subscription! (I decided to continue past the trial. It was really a great tool while I was learning the ropes!!)
From the first week I was hooked.  The lists from the local drug stores really did have great deals. There were always a couple of freebies to be had. Plus I learned about the drugstore programs that really let you save money! CVS Extra Care Bucks, Walgreens Register Rewards, and Rite Aid's Single Check Rebate program.  If you learn to use these effectively, you will really save big bucks!  Don't believe me?  See my Rite aid trip from yesterday! :)  If you develop a system that works for you not only will you save money, but you'll actually have a lot of fun doing it!!
I'll break my system down by store in the next few days.
Stay Tuned!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Rite Aid Trip Today

I was able to get to Rite Aid today on my lunch hour and I did great.
Here's what I bought:
Transaction 1
2 Bounty paper towels  12.99 each
I used these coupons:
1 $5 off  $25 rite aid coupon
2 $1 bounty coupons (from January PandG) I had 2 becasue there were 2 in my paper that week!
Total with tax $20.82
Transaction 2
Duracell Batteries 20 plus 5 free pack $16.99
3 Nissan Lo Mein noodles .88 each
2 Clorox wipes $1.99 each
2 Palmolive dish soap .89 each
1 Valentines Tootsie pops $1.77
3 Kraft Mac and Cheese (they were buy one get one. Since they only had three I got a raincheck to pick up the last free one next time!)
 I used these coupons
$5 off a $20 order from Rite Aid video values
$3 off Duracell Rite Aid coupon from this weeks circular
$1.00 off seasonal item (I forgot to use this...Darn!!)
$1.00 off 2 Palmolive
$1.00 off 2 clorox wipes
Buy 3 Get one free Mac and Cheese (this made it buy 1 get 3 free with the BOGO sale!)
total with tax
I paid with my rebate check from last month ($37.xx)
So my total out of pocket for all this was (Drumroll please.....)
61 cents!!!
Not bad if I do say so myself!!
I will also get in $3 Single check from the Duracell and have about $50 towards the P and G visa gift card rebate (spend $100 get at $35 gift card).


Let's Get Started

You've got to start somewhere, right? 
My husband and I have set a goal to buy a single family house next year.  We already own an investment property that we have lived in for the last 11 years.  When we bought the place after we got married, our plan was to live in one apartment for 3 years, and then buy a single family house.  Then life happened. Long story short, we're still here, and we have some finacial work to do before we make this goal a reality.

I have been an avid couponer for about a year now.  I do it to save money, sure, but for me mostly its a hobby.  I get a real thrill out of the deals I get. I've noticed that a side benefit of this hobby is that I've become more concious of my spending, and I've really improved my budgeting skills. By improved, I mean I actually think about the money before I spend it, instead of wondering where it all went after it is gone!! I'm sure you can relate to that.  Good money management is so important, and just being organized makes all the difference!

So in order to keep myself accountable in this journey, I've decided to blog about it.  I will share my coupon strategies, and  periodically let you know how we are doing as we progress towards our goals.  I'll keep track of the money I save, the ways I come up with to build our savings, and of course the details of the house hunt when we get there.

I'm excited about the Journey!!