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.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

In my mailbox this week

Lot's of goodies for Meg this week!
I got:
1 $5 rebate check from SC Johnson
1 $15 rebate check from P and G
1 coupon book from betty crocker with $10 in coupons
1 free sample of Kashi warm cinnamon heart to heart cereal. This had 3 $1.50 off on box of kashi cereal PLUS a coupon for a free box of cereal.  Yay Kashi!

Mail in rebates are new for me, but so far so good.  I have a few more checks on the way, and then these are getting deposited into a special "rebates" savings account.  I want to see how much I earn this year on rebates (not including my rite aid rebate checks...those are reserverd to play at rite aid!). so far I have $20 bucks! I still need to figure out any tricks of the trade on these.  So far I have learned to read the fine print, but many of these rebates can be combined with coupons or deals in the store, so these can make for real money makers. Both the checks I got this week are purely profit as I  did deals on the products that were free after coupons and sales.

I also sign up for free samples and coupon books when I see an offer online.  Free samples almost always come with coupons, although these Kashi coupons are really good ones!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Crown Molding in the living room!

I'm so mad I didn't take a "before" picture so you could see the difference!  My very talented husband and my dear brother in law hung the crown molding in the living room today. That along with the new paint makes such a difference.  It came out beautifully.  It just needs the finishing touches of filling in the nail holes and the final paint, and we can put the furniture in place and enjoy our new room. :)

Look what I got at target for $3.89!!

I got:
4 Special K fruit crisps @ 2.50 each (looks like 3 in the picture, but one is photography skills need a bit of help!)
- 2x1.00 off special k crisp internet printable manufacturer coupon (special K web site)
-1 $1.00 off 2 special k product from sunday paper
-2 $1.00 off 2 special K target web coupon (

2 Reduced Fat Triscuit@ $1.93 each
- $2 off 2 nabisco crackers (, but they are gone now)
-$1 off 2 target coupon

1 Nabisco Right Bites 100 calorie  pack @ $2.69
- 1 $1.00 off 1 from sunday paper

1 Kraft Shredded Mozzarella @$2.34
-1 $1.00 off 1 Kraft cheese target coupon

Total after coupons was $8.89 minus $5 target card from last week
net $3.89 out of pocket

I goofed on this one.  I thought I would also get a $5 gift card for the Nabisco and Special K, but the register didn't pick it up.  There was a sign with the rite bites that said select nabisco and kellogs snacks. So either there are 2 different promotions, or one of the special k flavors was not included.  I was in a hurry, so I didn't have time to check at customer service. Oh well.  Still a sweet deal.  The special K gift card deal runs for a few more weeks, so I'll check it out the next time I'm in target.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Walgreens Challenge officially begins!

It was a strong start. I purchased $41.26 in products and spent .76 for it!

I have $85.24 left on my gift card plus $14 in register rewards for a total of $99.24 in challenge dollars remaining.

Here is what I did (it worked so well, I did it twice! I needed separate transactions to get all my register rewards)

4 bags Hershey’s “Pieces” Candy on sale 2.50 each

-4 $1 off coupons from the paper a few weeks ago (I had 1 from the paper and got the remaining from the coupon master-a clipping service)

Buy $10 in Hershey’s receive $5 in Register Rewards

1 20ct Excedrin Menstrual formula on sale for 2.50 each (I know! This deal is the ultimate PMS survival kit!)

-1 $2 off Excedrin printable (I got the link from the Iheartwags website)

Buy 1 get $2 in register rewards (only works for the menstrual formula, which is why I got that one)

Each separate transaction was $7.38 and gave me $7 in register rewards

I did this twice, so my entire haul was 8 bags of candy and 2 Excedrin. I only have a picture from 1 transaction. The other candy and Excedrin are at my office.

PLUS I got 2 coupons for $1 off 1 bag of M and M’s(1 printed after each of my transactions). They are good until 4/21 so I’m thinking I’ll get a pretty sweet deal on holiday clearance after Easter if I don’t use them before. Nice!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The $100 Walgreens Gift Card Challenge

I received a $100 Walgreens gift card in the mail yesterday.  I got it by cashing in some air miles that were going to expire. I didn't have enough miles for a free flight, and they were on an airline I rarely fly (American Airlines and I had a falling out last year, but that is a story for another day!) so I did a bit of research and discovered I could convert the miles to a gift card through  When I saw that Walgreens was a choice I decided to get the card and see just how long I could go at Walgreens without paying anything out of pocket. I also want to see how much merchandise I can get for the $100 by using coupons and hitting the sales.
I am not really going to set any "rules" for the challenge, but I am going to try to keep to my normal shopping habits.  When it comes to coupon shopping I try to:
1. Only buy items we have personal use for, or have a plan for (maybe a gift or donation for example)
2. If I already have enough of an item to last 6-12 weeks , I leave it on the shelf, unless it is a money maker with a long shelf life. I won't buy things I will never use (ie blood sugar monitors) just to get register rewards. I don't have a problem with those who choose to do that, it just isn't right for me, so I leave those for the people who need them!
3.I won't waste my time or gas running all over town trying to get an item if it is out of stock at a store I normally shop at. I'll ask for a raincheck if it makes sense, but if I miss something with register rewards, I don't stress about it. Most deals come around again!!

For the purpose of this challenge, I will count register rewards when I earn them. They will go to the declining balance of the gift card. Usually I count them when I spend them, so this will be a slight departure from my normal "accounting system". :) Same goes for mail in rebates. If I submit for one, I will add the amount I'll get back to the card balance. I just started to dip my toe in the rebate pond, so we'll see how that goes.  Since I'm really spending no money (the card was free, unless you want to count my blood sweat and tears as a road warrior!) I need to just add them to the balance.  I also don't typically break my orders into multiple transactions, but I may consider it if it makes sense to stretch my card further.

I don't really have any idea how this is going to go, but I am setting a goal of  making the card last 3 months and getting $500 worth of products.  If it goes longer, or I get more stuff, great! I'll keep a running tally of both what is left on the card, and value of products with each shop.

Wish me luck!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Doing a little design on a dime

Our project this weekend it to paint the living room. It definitely needs some freshening up, and paint is an inexpensive way to get a big change.
The plan started as a simple paint job in the living room, but has now evolved.  The living room is getting new paint, crown moldings, and furniture is being rearranged (really pretty colors, nutmeg and spiced cider!!). We will also paint and do molding in the dining room. The plan is to go for a green shade, but we're still tossing that around.  That painting won't happen until next weekend at the earliest, so we have some time to deliberate.  Andrew also painted the bathroom ceiling and put up 2 new light fixtures, which are a nice change from the old "very brady" fixtures we have wanted to switch out since we moved here 11 years ago! :P It is amazing how small things like that get away from you...
Andrew starts his new job on March 15, so he has a few weeks to spend on this project.  I'm helping on the weekends! There is a lot of prep work, and he got a lot done during the week, so we're in good shape to have phase one done by tomorrow!
I'll post pictures when its done!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Expiration Dates

One of the things you need to figure out to coupon effectively is how much of a product to buy when you hit a deal at a rockbottom price.  The idea is you buy enough to last until the next sale cycle. It's called stockpiling, which always brings the show "Hoarders" to my mind, but if you do it right you will have enough to last until it goes on sale again, but not TOO much.
As you shop the sales you will start to notice a pattern. Most items go on sale at least once in a 6-12 week period, and as you tune into that, you'll be able to make better choices about how much to buy.  Some items hit thier best price seasonally (think chocolate chips and other baking items during the holidays, or barbecue sauce and ketchup in the summer).If you know you'll use these things and you have the space to store them properly you can stock up more than you might use in 12 weeks for these types of items.
Which brings me to my point about expiration dates.  I read this article in Slate which confirms what I already believe.  Expiration Dates, Sell by dates, best by dates, etc. are pretty conservative.  I'm not suggesting you ignore them completely, just that you use your best judgement before throwing things out based on a date on a package.  Obviously the more perishable an item the more careful you should be, but if it has been stored properly, it looks and smells fine, it's probably ok even if it is past the date.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Less Choice?

I read this article about stores offering fewer "brand name" products in order to focus on house brands.  This article talks specifically about Wal-Mart but this could become a trend that may be bad for shoppers.  Less competition could mean higher prices and possibly fewer coupons! Boo!  In a way it reminds me of Wegmans. I love Wegmans, but they focus heavily on their own brand, and its not a great place to coupon as a result!
Read the article and let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Here's what's on my list at Walgreens this week

Skippy Peanut Butter
Use $1 off 2 coupon from previous sunday paper
net $1 each

Quaker oatmeal
2/$3  (I'm only getting 1)
Use $1 off one from quakers site
net .50
Someone's making oatmeal cookies sometime soon!!

If I can get my hands on any oscar meyer coupons I may get the BOGO bacon deal.
There is also  a good BOGO dela for lysol products.  If you need cleaning supplies you can match these with the coupons in last Sundays paper and get them cheap!!

Happy Valentines Day! CVS this week!

And Happy Sunday.  I've been browsing the paper and here's what's on my list for CVS this week:

Crest Toothpaste  Free after ECB limit 2
I know there are coupons out there for this from the paper in the past few weeks

Glade Soy Candles
$6 ea
Buy 2 Get $4 ECB
Coupon $3 off 2 from

Sobe Water
Buy one get one free
use 2 Buy one get free from Sobe's web site.
Get 4 Free!!

Think Coupons aren't worth it? Check this out!

An article in the Wall Street Journal equates couponing to a part time job  Coupons win!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Walgreens Tomorrow-Friends and Family Discount!!

Tomorrow Walgreens is having a friends and family day. Go To Walgreens Website to print out a coupon that will give you 20% off all Walgreens brand items and 15% off all other eligible items (generally it’s all but prescriptions, stamps and stuff like that).

I thought I was done with Walgreens this week, but I think I’m going to go tomorrow and get the following

Rembrandt teeth whitening system

$9.99 with wags coupon from their Ad. Regularly $21.99 Yikes!

-$5 printable coupon from Rembrandt’s web site

Dove Men’s body wash (I tried to get this at rite aid but they were out)

$5.99 (get $5.99 register reward)

-1.25 coupon from the Sunday paper

I wasn’t sure if Andrew would use this…generally he’s a bar soap kinda guy, but I asked him and he said he would give it a shot because of the register rewards (my sweetie is very supportive of my hobby!) so we’ll give it a shot.

Three Musketeers Bars

.49 with Wags Coupon

Buy 4 get $1.50 register reward.

These can go in the treat basket on my desk at work!

CVS and the danger of impulse purchases

I went to CVS today. I had $13 in Extra Care Bucks expiring tomorrow, so I needed to use them. I put together a plan for very little out of pocket (oop) expense. I went in knowing that typically at CVS I need to be flexible, since they are often out of sale items. Not the case today. However…I got caught in the IMPULSE PURCHASE TRAP!!! Boo! One of the potential hazards of this “hobby”

Here’s how it went.

I stopped first at the coupon machine and scanned my card. (most CVS’s have these. It is the price scanner that now gives you CVS coupons…before you shop…excellent!)

I got $1.00 off any CVS skin care item (excludes trial sizes) and $1.00 off CVS facial tissues. Big fat stink... But then I decided to go see if they had a good price on facial wipes (as I stated in a previous post, I love these things! They are great to travel with because they can go in a carry-on bag and are neither a liquid nor a gel. They are also great for those nights when you are just too tired to wash your face. Sleeping in makeup is BAD. With these it’s just swipe/swipe sleep. They were on sale buy 1 get 1 half off. OK, I figure, I’ll grab these in case they don’t have the things on my list cause I need at least $13 pre tax at the end to use up my ecb’s. The 2nd thing I decided to get was the Venus razor. I had a P&G coupon for a free Olay body wash (which I DO NOT NEED!!) with purchase, plus a $2 coupon off the razor. OK good deal. Into the cart. THEN I attacked my list…

4 boxes of Cheerios (BOGO)

4 boxes of Kleenex (BOGO) (2 are not pictured. They went to the office!)

1 Gillette Razor ($4 ECB with purchase

I used these coupons:

2 x$1.25 off chocolate cheerios (yes. I know…but Andrew likes both chocolate and cheerios, so I am taking a chance!)

2x .75 off any cheerios

$1 off 4 Kleenex

The aforementioned impulse purchases

1 Venus Razor

1 Olay Ribbons

2 CVS Anti-aging face wipes (not just wipes..ANTI-AGING wipes! I need all the help I can get!!)

I used these coupons :

Free Olay Ribbons w/purchase of Venus razor (7.49)

$2 off Venus razor

$1 off CVS skin care

Then I used $13.00 in ECB for a grand total of $17.13 Boo!!

I mean according to my receipt I saved $50.65 and it is a lot of stuff, but pretty much what I paid was the total of my impulse purchases and I really didn’t need any of it. My stockpile on these items is pretty good.

Ah Well…Live and Learn.

From now on it needs to be list first, then other stuff if list stuff isn’t available. Yes. I will do that. I promise!! I’ll try anyway.

As a side note…between this purchase and my rite aid yesterday, I already have enough P&G purchases to send in for the $100 in coupons. This deal will be in the paper on 2/21 (you’re gonna start getting the Sunday paper…right??) but you can send in receipts dated after 2/1. Awesome.

Details about this, as well as some good scenarios for the P and G $35 gift card at Rite Aid can be found at I recently discovered this site and so far I am very impressed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Great Deals this week!

This is a great week for deals.  I am pretty behind in posting, and I haven't shopped at all yet (except for a quick trip to Walgreens to use a register reward that was expiring on Monday)
Here is an overview of my favorite deals at the various stores in our area.

Gather up your Healthy Choice and Quaker coupons and get to target!!!  They have 2 gift card promotions going.  Buy 10 healthy choice meals get $5 target card.   These are lunch for me pretty much eveyday at work and I have a ton of coupons from various sources so this is going to be great.  I am limited only by what my freezer can hold!  Although, the fresh mixers are included, so I'll get some of those as well.  If you don't have any coupons, go to Healthy Choice's website and you can print $1 off 2 (you can print it twice) and get started!  Quaker is select products, buy 5 get a $5 gift card.  if you like oatmeal and granola bars, go for it.

My goal for rite aid this week is to finish the Proctor and Gamble gift card deal that has been going on this month.  There was a P&G coupon insert in the Sunday paper (you got the paper right?  You've go to get the paper on Sunday!! well, you can  do ok with printable coupons, but the ones from the paper are really good. Seriously, get the Sunday paper delivered.  8 weeks is like $10 and you'll make that back many times over!)
But I digress.
Use the P and G insert to get yourself a visa gift card though single check rebates this week.  I've been working the deal all month so I need $15 to earn the top gift card.
I'm going to get Tide $10.99 and Tide Stain Release5.99 (free with coupon) to put this thing to bed.
There are a lot of BOGO Coupons in this insert, so even if you are just starting this week, you can get a bunch of things, use the coupons to reduce your out of pocket, and get started at rite aid.Don't forget to get your $5 off a $25 purchase coupon at Other printable there as well.  You can print each twice.
I'll post what I get later today

I needed to use up a $2 register reward so I bought 2 hefty ziplock bags and 2 extra gum.  Both were Buy One Get One (need walgreens in ad coupon for the bags.  they have the ads in the store) and I had a $1 manufacturer coupono my total out of pocket was $1.98 for all/

I have $13 in Extra Bucks that are going expire this week!  I have to go spend them.  The best things I'm seeing are Cheerios BOGO, Kleenex BOGO and some razor deals.  I'll post my deal after I go.  This one is going to be put together on the fly.

Dollar Doublers this week.  This should be interesting.  I need to figure my strategy out for this.  Stay Tuned!!

OK thats the round up.  Stay tuned for what I end up with!!    

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Waiting for the paper

My Sunday paper is SUPPOSED to be hear by 8 am on Sunday.  It's 9 and so far, nada!!
I am going to post my deals when I get a chance to look at the ads, but with Super Bowl prep today, It would have been nice to get a jump on it.   Sigh!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cleaned out the linen closet

That's where I keep a lot of my loot!  It is official.  We do not need any more of the following for quite some time!!
Soap (bar, hand or bodywash!!)
lightbulbs!! (I have soo many...want some?)
cleanser and moisturizer
feminine supplies.
Contact lens solution

I'm not going to buy anyof this stuff until I get down to 1 left for any of them.  At this rate, we could potentially go a year without buying some of this stuff! (maybe I exagerate...who knows? 6 months at least!!)
At least now I know what we have!  I need to do the same in my kitchen and freezer...

Gettin' my house in order!! God knows how much it needs it!!