Thursday, April 29, 2010

savings mania

Ever since I got a taste of the "savings greater than paying" bug, I have been a mad woman trying to find/research the best deals with coupons every week.  It's no easy task and reminds me of a word problem.  I always hated word problems in school, but as I have aged I have learned how solve "real life" word problems.  My "real life" word problem for every week:  How many grocery items can Leslie buy on a discounted price just by using coupons and sale prices?

The answer:  around $60 to $70 worth of items on a weekly basis...which leads me to more questions.  How in the heck were we spending close to $100 a week at Wal-Mart after getting married?  Isn't Wal-Mart supposed to be the discount store?  And the real question is why did we put ourselves through that torture of going to Wal-Mart every week?  Ugh, now I cringe every time we have to make a stop by Wal-Mart.  It's hard to beat $17 for a 44-pound bag of dog food.  Thankfully Jackson and Tyson have serious tummy problems when switched to the more expensive brands.  They must have part of their "human" mommy in them...the cheap side.

And my word problem makes me think every week about how many people refuse to clip coupons and don't research for the best deals.  Honestly, there is no point in anyone not saving as much money as they possibly can when making their grocery run whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  I mean you can't get in the habit of eating your favorite cereal every week when trying to save money.  And you will have to become creative when it comes to making supper.  Can't have the same ol' same ol' every Monday night. 

Ironically, this process has taught me a lot about cooking.  Because we buy a different buggie load every week, our meals change.  If you are having a hard time finding recipes for your sale items, go to and search under the ingredients section.  You can input up to 3 different ingredients and several recipes pop up just like magic!  Kraft Foods has been a source of my cooking for several meals.  They are so easy to make, and some recipes don't require a lot of ingredients, which is super handy.

Please:  don't take my word for it when it comes to savings.  I challenge you to start saving.  You will be happy that you did, but I have a warning:  once you start, it's super hard to stop.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

mission: kitchen art

Just about every wall in our house has some kind of art or picture filling the voided space, or rather "sky" as I like to call it.  There is a huge "sky" in our kitchen that needed to be filled a-sap!  It was driving me (and Daniel) nuts not having a picture to hang in that area.  We even tried to motivate ourselves by hanging a stockings painting for our kitchen Christmas decorations.  All that did was establish where the naked nail would be in the wall for the next 4 months. 

Our ideas were sparse:
1.  Buy four 5x7 or 8x10 pictures of the different seasons.
2.  Buy a huge (and I am talking ginormous) frame and a cute smaller canvas picture to hang inside.
3.  Buy pretty much anything large that would match.

So we went with the 3rd option, because it has nearly been a year of moving in and I am tired of looking at a green sky.   

Now to unveil the kitchen art masterpiece....drum rolll.....TA-DA!

What is it?  (you may ask.) 
Well, it's a cloth napkin from the World Market in a 16x20 frame.  Am I creative, or what?

And if you recall, I hate buying something at full price and this, already cheap project, was no exception. 
WM cloth napkin:  $2.99 with a 10% off coupon making it $2.69
Target 16x20 frame:  $14.99
Total kitchen art price:  $17.68

Not the best savings ever, but hey, 30 cents is 30 cents.  Plus we have less green sky to look at.

Up next....the GIGANTIC blue living room sky behind our chairs.  I have thrifty project in mind for that area.  I am still collecting my "suuplies" so it might be a few more months.  You will see what I mean...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

getting paid to shop, or something similar

Today on my lunch break I headed to Publix to catch some of the deals that were expiring today.

On my list-
2 boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats (strawberry...yum!)-BOGOF
2 cans of Scrubbing Bubbles-BOGOF
Scrubbing Bubbles toilet gel
Scrubbing Bubbles 2 in 1 brush kit
Dentyne gum-BOGOF
2 birthday cards

I love collecting cleaning supplies!

My spending grand total was $10.02.  Not too bad for everything listed above.  And now...for the savings:  $23.89!  That is a savings of 70.45%!

How does that even happen?  Let me break it down:
I already saved money with the cereal, gum, and cans of SB being buy one get one free.  Now it's time to stack the coupons.  I had two $1 off coupons for the cereal.  Then I had three coupons for the cans of SB:  one $2 off Publix coupon and two $0.75 off manufacturer coupons.  I had a "buy SB toilet gels, and get a SB 2 in1 brush kit free" coupon.  The brush kit was regularly $5.99, but it was free with that coupon.  Then I had three $1 off coupons for the SB toilet gel.  That brings my coupon total to $14.49.....just in coupons!

Plus I can't forget to mention that I have an SC Johnson $5 rebate for buying 3 of their products.  Boo-ya!  Even more savings!

If you are thrifty and patient, you can start saving 70%, but it's not easy.  And don't get frustrated.

Monday, April 19, 2010

a penny saved is a penny earned

Saving money in this economy is not only nice, but it is almost essential.  Over the past 3 years, I have made coupons and free samples a part of my every day existence.  It's not an easy process.  In fact, it's a challenge.  Who isn't up for a challenge?...especially a challenge that can save you a BUTT load of money.  (Yes, it was necessary to capitalize "butt" in order to get my point across.)

Here's my life summed up in a simple equation:
coupons + free samples + butt-load of savings = one happy Leslie (and Daniel)

I used to not be like this (aka a crazy, money-saving monster).  Nope, I used to spent my money like I was dying the next day.  I would spend down to the very last pennies.  Yes, the money would burn a hole in my pocket if it wasn't spent immediately.  When Sissy and I were younger, we were complete opposites of how we are now with money.  Sissy would save, almost hoard, her allowance money.  She would also hide it from herself only to discover the piles of money years later and instantly become a twenty-dollar-aire.  I remember upon several occasions that she would feel sorry for me once she discovered her hidden treasure.  I would ask for money and shockingly she would give me whatever she didn't "want".  What a nice little sister she was!

Ironically, we are reversed now.  I hoard my money like it can be transferred to heaven when I die.  And Sis...well, let's just say she loves to clothes shop.

Once I graduated from college and moved back home, I was introduced by my co-worker, Lisa, the joys of coupons and ad matching.  She taught me a lot about how to save double and triple!  There's no need to spend the full amount on an item just search for a coupon.  My money-saving techniques have come a LONG way since a few years ago.

My ultimate "money-saving" goal was to save more than I spend (at Publix).  With Publix's BOGOF deals and doubling coupons up to 50 cents, I was on a mission.  On Tuesday, March 30, I met my goal.  I saved more than I spent at Publix.  I spent $61.19 and saved $69.73...a total savings of 53.26%!  However, I feel like the cashier girl didn't ring up all of my coupons.  She was the coupon Nazi and wouldn't scan some of them.  Did she skip over other coupons without letting me know?  uh, probably.  I will never go to your line again, Rachel.

How do I do it?  Simple.  I research and print and cut.  Another wonderful reason for the Internet being invented:  super savings!  Thank you, Al Gore (for taking the credit the internet's invention, or else I would thank "for real Internet inventer" guy).

Step #1:  I clip coupons from the Sunday paper.  We subscribe to the B'ham News 4 or 5 days a week for 15 weeks, which totals $35ish.  Within 1 or 2 times of visiting the grocery store, I can save that money.  So the subscriptions are completely worth it to me.

Step #2:  I subscribe to  This is the easiest website to join!  You give them your email address and they will email you when new, updated coupons are available.  Just select which ones you want, and print those bad boys out. 

Step #3:  I follow a few coupon-saving websites on Twitter.  The websites will post the best deals on the Twitter feed displaying the great deals!  But to get the best deals, I go to the websites directly.  I only follow 2 as of right now:
Both websites are set up in blog form, which is super easy to read.  They post entries about every stores weekly deals, individual coupons, and even free samples!  The free samples are my favorite!  I have gotten everything from shampoo, condition, toothpaste, laundry detergent, "lady" products, and white strips mailed to my house for free!  Most of the products even come with coupons so you can purchase those products in the future. 

Step #4:  I try to go to the product's official website to see if they have any extra coupons.  I have been successful with finding $1 off coupons on those websites.  boo-ya...extra money saved.

There's other methods of obtaining coupons and great deals on items, but the 4 steps above is all that I do now.  I am sure that I will expand my steps sometime soon.

With as many coupons are there are, I VERY rarely spend full price for an item no matter if it is groceries, clothing, home decor, and misc.

What money-saving routines do you practice?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

a gift for the birthday gift

So today is the big day.  The big 2-6.  Happy birthday to me!  Man, I feel old.

As promised, I made Barkley's first tutu last night.  Consider it my gift to my birthday gift.  You are welcome, Barkley, for becoming humanized.  If you don't like it, then you shouldn't have been so darn cute in those pictures from the breeder.  Secretly I know that you were wanting a spoiled-rotten life.

Now time for the unveiling of Barkley's first homemade tutu:

As you can see, I had a blast and might have gotten a little carried away at Hobby Lobby.  They had spools of tulle (25 yards) on sale for $1.99 each!  So I got 7 spools (yellow, green, lavender, purple, rose, and 2 whites).  Then their other tulle was $0.77 per yard.  I got 3 yards of 3 different colors (hot pink, orange, and navy).  Don't forget the elastic, which is 4 yards for $1.29, ribbon on sale for $1.19, and a pack of barretts for $0.99 also on sale.  My grand total came to $26.

My goal was to make a hot pink, yellow, and white tutu for my birthday celebration on Friday night.  (Yes, she will wear it.)  I measured around her waist and from her waist to her tail.  I cut 2 inch strips of 10 inches in length of tulle and tied them to the elastic as seen above.  It took a good while to cut and tie. 

The above picture was probably about 45 minutes in the project, but I did get faster as I tied.

I couldn't stop at just making a tutu.  She needed a hair bow to match!  I clicked a barrett into her hair to get her used to wearing it.  I don't think she minded it at all.

Next came the hair bow.  Doesn't she look precious?  Later, Tyson came up and ripped it out.  Maybe he isn't a fan of the bow.

After my brief intermission with making the hair bow, I was able to complete the tutu.  The above is the final product.  It turned out SUPER cute (if I do say so myself).  The next part was the hardest, because she was a wiggle worm and did not want me to put it on her. 

Too bad.  I got my way.  Look at how precious she is!

She is still unsure about what the crap is happening, but I know she enjoyed it.  She will learn to love clothes just like her brothers.

This is my favorite picture!  Barkley will be an excellent poser when she is older.  It will just take some time. 

The final product:  tutu with hair bow.

I think this project turned out extra successful!  It was fun to make and fun to watch Barkley prance around with it on.  Let me know if you are interested in your angel having a tutu.  I think I might start selling them.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

new project: Barkley clothing

I have been doing a lot of thinking as of lately about what it means to have a little girl dog.  I have always wanted a little girl dog who I could tote around and dress up.  You might think, "Leslie, that is what having kids is like."  True, but a little girl dog is my gradual transition into having kids.  If too much change happens at once, I tend to freak out and become overly stressed out about my new life.  Just ask Daniel about when we went from one dog to two living in an apartment.  I had a small freak-out/overwhelemed session when Tyson wouldn't cooperate like Jackson.  I was used to Jackson being the perfect angel that I didn't realize that not all dogs are as calm and sweet as Jackson was as a puppy.  Thankfully, Tyson has turned into a great dog.  He never pees or poops in the house, because he knows that he will get a spanking and yelled at.  He is very much the people-pleaser dog.

Anyways...back to Barkley.  She is my test-run for kids.  Not that Jackson and Tyson haven't been treated like our babies, because they have.  They are our sons, but they aren't as needy as Barkley seems to be.  We have mastered the boy-side, now we are testing out the girl-side.  Gotta be ready for whatever God decides to give us.

I have been doing some research on little dog clothing and wow!  Can we say expensive?!  $20 for a little x-small tutu!  oh, please.  So my new project is to make Barkley precious clothes.  A trip to Hobby Lobby should seal the deal on my goal of making inexpensive dog clothing.  My first project:  a little tutu with a matching bow.  How hard can that be? 

Stay tuned for a blog post on either successfully making or failing miserably.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Resolution update

Another month down in oh-ten and it's time for the New Year's Resolution update.  My time limit is over halfway complete and not much progress has been made since last month.  Around 3 weeks ago I was sick with the yuckiness.  After getting well, I just haven't been motivated to work out. 

I stepped on the wii fit last night to see just how much I have gained back.  I was informed that it had been 21 days since I last stepped on the balance board.  Then it was time for do or die.  And surprisingly I have lost another pound since my last weigh-in.  I am still sitting at a negative 6 pounds since January 1.  I was completely shocked!  Go, me!

That means that I have 2 months to lose at least 4 more pounds.  Can I get motivated to lose it?  I hope so!