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.