Oct 25, 2011

PIF 10-22-11

2- 14 lb boxes cat litter ($15.98)
1 sinus nasal spray ($7.99)
1 package cough drops ($2.49)

Total shelf cost of items given: $26.46

We were also able to pass on one of our old dressers to a family member since we were given 2 from a friend.

Dan has continued getting loads of overtime, so I'm hoping we can start the next phase of our debt repayment soon. My student loan has been on deferment for the last year and is going to be kicking in come December. We are saving up some money to pay off all the accumulated interest before we start focusing on our next snowball step. Hopefully we'll get the amount saved up that we need really soon :-)

Oct 13, 2011

Blessings of furniture!

I forgot to post about the HUGE blessing my husband and I received not too long ago! We had finally gotten the last little bit of money together to pay for the Volvo loan. I'm not sure how he was feeling, but I was very nervous about clearing out the majority of our savings to pay it off (even though that's what it was dog-eared for). We had wavered back and forth for a while; "should we save up all of the amount? Should we make lots of little payments?" We finally stepped out in faith and decided to stick to our original plan. Guess what? The next day Dan had so much overtime. And the day after that. And the day after that. And it has continued today and looks like it will keep up, at least for a while! The best part is with the overtime he received, we were then able to pay off the small remainder of the loan.

During this whole time, we came to the conclusion that we needed at least one more dresser for the kids. Trying to shove 3 kids wardrobes into one tiny dresser just does not work! After we have spent our money on some cheaply made, but expensive furniture, I decided that we needed to become more purposeful about what we are buying. After scouring Craigslist for months, I got very frustrated. No one would email me back, or pickups wouldn't work out because we lived too far away. We were planning on buying them with money that could have been used to pay off our loan. We finally decided to give up and just focus on what we had (ignore the mess, basically).

After we stepped out in faith and paid off the big part of the loan and used the OT to pay off the remaining small part, one of my friends posted they had 2 FREE dressers that they wanted to get rid of. I quickly emailed her and she said they were ours if we could pick them up! The nice thing is they are solid wood and can be distressed to go along with the design style I like!

After we picked up the dresser, Dan's mom asked us if we were looking for a queen frame. I think she was asking in jest, but we jumped on that as well. Again, it's a solid piece, so I can distress it as well! AND, right before we headed back home, my sister-in-law told me they were done using our old crib and that we could have it back. Let me tell you, this was probably the BIGGEST blessing we could have got. Dan and I were both to the point of wanting to get Ms. S out of our room and into her own. I also needed a huge kick in the butt to get that room organized (it has been our catch-all room since we moved here in March).

We are so thankful for what God has graciously given us! (especially since it was free). Our house is slowly coming together and having to sort all the items I have collected through my endeavors of crafting had made me realize how much STUFF we have accumulated. We are trying to focus on bringing this into our house that accomplish our end goal. It will take some practice, but I'm willing to work at it :-)

Oct 12, 2011

PIF 10-12-11

Oct. 13, 2011

-16 double rolls toilet paper ($8.99)
-Chloraseptic throat lozenges ($3.99)
-Hand sanitizer ($1.99)
-4 cat treats ($6.36)
-Cough drops ($1.99)

Shelf cost of items given = $23.32

Oct 5, 2011

Paying it forward

I've come to the realization that I haven't really had the opportunity to talk about how we are passing on God's blessings to us. Because I have started couponing, I have been able to stock up on some essential items for my family. This has been great, because as I get more involved with it, the less effort I have to put in because I can hold out for a GREAT deal. The nice thing is because we are so stocked up, I can now focus on helping out friends/family members by getting them great deals, too. I have been able to pass on contact lens solution (I don't use it, but I was able to get it free) to my sister in law and also pass on some laundry detergent, dish soap, baby wipes, hand soap and other random things to my brother and his wife :-)

I truly feel blessed to be able to help out other people around me and am so thankful that God has brought us to this point. It wasn't that long ago that Dan and I were struggling to feed 4 people and keep a roof over our heads while he was unemployed and bringing home only $15k. That's not to say it isn't still a struggle for us every now and then (sometimes bills all fall at the same time), but we are definitely feeling much more secure, especially since we have started religiously budgeting and "telling our money where to go instead of wondering where it went."

I think what I may do is each keep track of how much stuff I am able to pass on to other and what the value of the items are. I'll be so excited to see how much of an impact we can make on others through the course of a year :-)

Oct. 5, 2011
-4 softsoap hand soaps ($7.56)
-1 8 lb. bag of cat litter ($7.99)
Shelf cost of items given = $15.55

One loan down... many more dollars to go

My husband has been working his butt off these last few weeks. He has had plenty of opportunity to get some overtime and he's been taking advantage of it. Because he has done so, we made our final auto loan payment today. That means, we now officially own all 3 of our cars!

Since February 2011, we have paid off $10,086.87! We have $43,481.65 left. We can do it!

Sep 1, 2011

Fred Meyer, Safeway, Rite Aid, Walgreens

This was a completely FREE trip to the store!

Best trip in a while. The shelf cost was $234.37. After sales and coupons, I paid $35.28 oop. That's a savings of 85%. I also have $4 +Up Rewards for next week at Rite Aid and $6 RR for Walgreens next week :-)

I purchased:
-4 Nivea body washes
-3 Gillette body washes
-3 Gillette deodorants
-2 Secret deodorants
-2 Colgate Sensitive Pro-relief toothpastes
-1 Crest Pro-health mouth wash
-2 Olay Regenerist face lotions
-1 Nail polish remover
-2 Carefree pantilners
-4 bags of M&Ms
-4 bags of Dove promises
-1 Oral-B Complete Action toothbrush
-4 1 lb packages of Tillamook butter
-1 box Playtex tampons
-3 small containers of Simply juice

The best part is next week Walgreens will have the Olay Regenerist on sale, too, and I can add that receipt in to what I bought this week and get a $20 rebate. Woo-hoo!

Aug 23, 2011

Almost to our next goal!

The goal I am talking about is paying off our car loan for the Volvo! A few posts back, I talked about how Dan got a bonus from work and we used the majority of it to pay off half of our loan. We have been squirreling away money over the last few months as well, and I am happy to say that we have about 3/4 of the rest of the loan saved! Our goal is to pay off the remaining $2100 by November. This is when my student loan is going to kick in. I'm really hoping we are going to do it. Dan is getting some OT this week, so it will definitely help! I can see the end of this loan in sight, and it's very exciting :-)

How about you? How are you working towards paying off debt? Are you selling things? Budgeting like a crazy person and making your money work for you? Or are you doing something different?

Aug 12, 2011

Safeway 8/12/2011 (take 2)

We went and enjoyed some classic cars this evening. Boy, they sure were pretty! I went to the store with the girls and it was SO much quicker than earlier today. We bought:
-8 boxes Chex cereal
-4 boxes Nature Valley granola bars

If I had paid retail for all of these groceries, the total would have been $44.69. My oop total was $11.58. That's a total savings of 74%!

Safeway 8/12/2011

Today I made a "quick" (as quick as possible with 3 kids in tow) trip to Safeway. I plan on doing a few more transactions through the next couple of days to stock up even more on these great deals! (side note... for those who read this and think I probably didn't get that good of a deal, please understand that here in the northwest, we really don't have that great of doubling/tripling of coupons, so if I can even save 50% at the store, I am a happy girl!)

Here is what I bought:
-4 boxes Honey Nut Chex cereal
-4 boxes Nature Valley granola bars
-4 packages Pillsbury Sweet Moments
-15 containers Dreyers milkshakes/smoothies

If I had paid retail for all of these groceries, the total would have been $63.78. My oop total was $15.58. That's a total savings of 77%!

Aug 1, 2011

Getting back into the game

We have been following the Dave Ramsey plan for getting out of debt. He suggested that you put a pause on the debt snowball if you are having a baby so you can store up your extra money in case there are medical bills. Since we've had Sydney, we knew we needed to get it back in gear. In the last couple of weeks, Dan got an unexpected bonus from work. That money was sitting in our account and we started watching it dwindle away because of things we needed to take care of. We got to the end of our money "to-do" list, so we took a look at how much we had to put towards our car loan. As of right now, it is half paid off! We are going to buckle down and try to pay off the rest of it in the next 4 months before my school loan payments kick in. Since January, we've paid off $8026.72 of our total debt and have $45,505.80 left. It's great to see the number go down. We are so thankful for God's provisions :-)

May 23, 2011

Rite Aid 05-23-2011

Just got back from another trip to Rite Aid. Didn't get much today, but I did save A BUNCH!

The shelf cost of all of this would have been $34.46. With all my coupons and store discounts I paid $2.49 OOP (saved 92%!). But, I also got $8.00 in +Up rewards, so this was actually a $5.51 money maker!

May 19, 2011

The dreaded "B" word

I don't know what any of you thought when you saw the title of this one. The dreaded "b" word I'm talking about is a... budget! (Pretty sure I heard a few groans ;-P) Don't get me wrong, I know that budgeting is a hard thing to do. In fact, it wasn't until recently that I've been particularly religious about making sure our bills are lined up within what paycheck and that the amounts are correct. I used to just put down estimated amounts that I thought were going to be due and hope that we had enough to get us through.

My secret to making budgeting easier was to make a spreadsheet with all of our monthly expenses put into it. I also put the dates when they are due and try to have them in order. There will be numbers that fluctuate, such as how much gas you will be using (like if you take an extra trip to visit family or head to the beach for the day) or even your grocery budget (you may be over or under one week, so you could adjust accordingly). In our home, for the most part, our expenses stay the same. I think the only thing that has changed is our student loan payment and that's because we need to catch up on accrued interest. I usually try to keep everything at the same amount, no matter what. I think this helps us out because, if we want to go over, we can't. BUT, if we don't spend the whole amount, that is now extra money to stash away for our debt snowball. Usually you would just apply the amount to the debt snowball, but because we are having a baby, we are stashing away our cash until we know it is healthy and home safe.

I don't want anyone to think that we have it down perfectly. We still have issues with communicating what we are going to buy or even trying to make sure we don't go over our budgeted amount. The biggest killer, in my opinion, is eating out. We have tried to drastically cut our budget in that area, but trying to feed 4 people on a small budget for going out is a hard feat. With summer being here, grilling is going to be a godsend! Even if food isn't completely defrosted, you can just throw it on the grill and it will still get cooked all the way through :-)

I think we also struggle with the little purchases. I can go for a week, maybe 2 without buying coffee, but then there are days where it feels completely necessary, so I'll stop at the drive through. Dan might find a really good deal on a computer game that he's been wanting to try, so he'll go ahead and buy it. If you don't budget for these small things, they can add up to something really BIG! This is not something that you can't budget for, however. This is what you could call the "blow" category or even the "random" category. You and your spouse can sit down and allot a certain amount to this category each month, so the little purchases don't become a huge fight. You do want to keep in mind that this category is supposed to be a small one. If you have enough money in it to buy a new couch or TV, you have completely missed the point. Budgeting is supposed to limit you, but not to the point where life is completely unenjoyable.

The other part to remember about budgeting is there is usually one person in the marriage that has the head for numbers (or at least more of one than the other). It is usually best for this person to look at how much will be coming in for the month (or week or however you want to break it down) and "spend" the money accordingly. THEN you go to the other spouse for a meeting and you discuss the layout of the finances. You both need to be in agreement about how the money is being spent. This is VERY important. If you disagree, you need to figure out how you can redistribute the money in a way that makes you both happy. The #1 cause of problems in a marriage is money issues and money fights. If this is an area that you and your spouse have never talked in before, don't expect it to be easy. It will take some time to develop the communication in this area, especially if this is an area of tension in your marriage.

If you have any tips that you could share with other couples about how to budget together, please feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to have this blog also be a way for us to help each other out :-)

May 11, 2011

Rite Aid 05-11-2011

Apparently this week at Rite Aid was feminine care week. I am now stocked up for a while. I did manage to get a few things that I also needed/wanted, so that was good. Everything else on my list was sold out though. It's kinda a pain to have to do some last minute adjustments to figure out how to rearrange your orders so they still maximize your savings. I'm hoping I didn't do too bad. I ended up going from 4 planned transactions down to 2 thrown together ones, but I still managed to save a bunch :-)

The shelf cost for everything was $78.57 and I paid $3.29 out of pocket (this includes a $2 rebate I'm going to be getting back from purchasing the lip balm!) There should have been some Kit Kat bars in this photo as well, but the baby got hungry ;-)

May 5, 2011

Rite Aid trip

I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not be shopping at Walgreens unless there is a REALLY good deal I can get without using their Register Rewards. Their policy is fairly confusing and none of the cashiers even seem happy to be there. After the experience my friend had there this last week, I'm in no hurry to go out and support them.

With that being said, Rite Aid and I have become quite good friends over the last few weeks. I have done some coupon deals before. In fact, they were the first store I hit up when I started couponing 3 years ago that had me hooked to start out with. Their "reward" system is a lot easier to understand, as they don't put restriction on you for rolling them from one transaction to another.

On Tuesday, after Dan got home, I went to my midwife appointment and then decided to run down to Rite Aid to try and make for some stress free shopping (no kids in tow). I had a huge list of items I wanted to get and had my coupons all cut out. Going through the store, I noticed that some of the prices were different than I had found on the blogs, but doing quick calculations I came to find that I would still be getting my items for a GREAT price! By the time I was done this is what I accrued:

2 Gillette Fusion razors
1 Flex-tastic gel foot care item (great for after wearing high heels or if you suffer from sore feet!)
2 Heel Rescue foot cream pumps
1 Dove men's deodorant
2 Physicians Formula bronzing powder
1 Revlon foundation
1 10 ct pack of Breathe Right strips
PLUS, I got a raincheck for Revlon beauty tools (and they are allowing me to get my +Up rewards with them!)

The shelf cost for everything would have $97.12, but I only paid $6.41 out of pocket! Here's the best part... I got a $5 +Up reward to use next time, plus I am getting a $12 Single Check Rebate from some of the items I bought. That means it put $10.59 into my pocket! This is my first money making deal :-D

May 4, 2011

The start of something new

I have been tossing around the idea of starting up another blog, specifically for my couponing stuff. I don't want this to become a couponing how-to, but if people see what I'm doing and want help, I'm more than willing to give them direction as I have understood it. Occasionally I might post an article or video clip in regards to "extreme couponing" that I find particularly interesting, but that might be it.

The point of this blog is to document various blessings God has brought into our lives and use this as a way to hold us accountable for passing on whatever we can! A little background about us...

Within our almost 6 years of marriage, we have done all the "normal" stuff. We have been "normal" American and taken on car loans, student loans, and a credit card. As Dave Ramsey says, "Being normal is broke. And normal sucks!" Some non-financial things we have done are switched careers, had 2 kids and a third on the way. Through all of this time, God has been present for us and has kept us afloat. Since our son was born (a little over 5 years ago) I have been a stay at home mom (SAHM). We have lived on a good salary and a small salary due to a year of unemployment. We have never once gone without. We've always had a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs and gotten our bills paid. Even in the most dire of financial straights, God has provided and we made it through.

Looking back, we have come to realize that we have nothing to show for how much Dan has worked except a pile of debt (both of us have student loans and we have a small car loan). I started reading The Total Money Makeover and got hooked instantly! It was everything I wanted to do, but we had let stupidity get in our way and backtrack us by many years. Dan and I talked about it, but never fully got serious. It wasn't until he was graduated from school that I brought it up again. We got through the strain of the holiday season and I fully got fed up with the constant nagging feeling that we weren't making our money work for us. Many people have their new year's resolutions and we decided that ours was going to be paying off as much debt as we could within this next year. When we started on January 1st, 2011, our total amount of debt was $53,568.52 and we have to date paid off $5,126.72.

I didn't realize when starting our "debt snowball" that Dave Ramsey says if you get pregnant, you need to put everything on hold and hoard cash. That way, if something happens, you can take less of a hit if a longer hospital stay is required and insurance won't cover everything. So, that's what we've done. We've basically lost 3 months of trying to pay off debt, but hopefully we'll have something to show for it by the time all is said and done. If we get gazelle intense about it and Dan is able to pick up plenty of overtime, we should get this loan paid off within 2 years. That's not bad considering our student loans were going to take us into the year 2028 or something ridiculous like that.

I hope that if you are reading this, you can at least get a little encouragement either to start using your blessings in a more responsible way or to remain intense about getting your family where you want it to be.