REALLY good Julep deal & Shopping Spree Total

For everyone curious to know how much I spent at my 12 item Express shopping spree…

$244.80

That means on average, I spent $20.40 per item. I don’t think that’s pretty shabby considering the kinds of clothes I got. And now I’ll just wear them until death does us part.

Speaking of deals, I’ve got a good one for you. Julep is offering the introductory box for their Maven Subscription program for one penny and that comes with free shipping. This month’s intro box comes with two polishes and a pedicure cream.

How do you get it? Easy peasy.

Step One: GO HERE

Step Two: Take the fun and frivolous Style Quiz, enter you email to find out your Style Personality, and see the box they’d send you. You can also go ahead and check out the boxes of the other styles and if you like one of those better, you can grab that one instead. In my case, it pegged me as an American Beauty but I was all about the Bombshell. So I added Bombshell to my cart and removed American Beauty.

Step Three: Sign up and check out.

When you’re done, you are now a part of the Julep Maven Subscription Program. And honestly? It’s a pretty good one. The way it works is like this.

On the 20th of every month they send you an email showing you your next box. By default they show you the style of the intro box you ended up with. If you love it, you do nothing. They charge your credit card on file $19.99 and send you your box.

If you don’t LOVE it,  you can log in and see the other styles. They even link you to a post on their blog that shows the colors for each box on nails. Next month includes a lip gloss and they took pictures of a girl wearing each color too. I really appreciate this because I feel like it’s full-disclosure and they’re not trying to pull a fast one.

So once you’ve checked out the other styles you can:

1. Choose a different style to send your way. This style will be your default next month.

2. Choose any of the styles and send it to a friend or family member as a gift. I love this for birthdays or other special occasions.

3. Skip the month. That’s right, you don’t have to buy the box every month. You don’t like it, you don’t have a friend who deserves it, or you’re just plain broke that month, you skip.

Of course you can always cancel the subscription and stay happy with your one cent intro box but if you like treating yourself now and then, I think it’s worth keeping it. Occasionally, they throw in a free polish. They also offer subscribers a chance to get mystery boxes– $60 or more worth of products for $19.99. I mentioned I had purchased one of these boxes and I received it the other day.

My Pretty Julep June Mystery Box Packaging

My Julep June Mystery Box Contents

My Mystery Box came with:

Julep Elixir Organic Oil, $24

Facial for Hands Glycolic Hand Scrub, $32

Glow on Age Defying Hand Brightener, $32

Megan, $14

Brooke, $14

And a free Julep.com nail file. Retail value of my $19.99 box? $116.

Not too bad huh?

Honestly, at first I was sort of blank about it. I really didn’t know what to make of the box because three of the six items were totally alien to me. But now that I’ve had it a few days and have been using the products, I’m really happy with it. One of the things I’ve been discovering through my De-Frumpiness Project is how luxurious some really small little things can feel.

Do I feel completely fancy washing my hands with a glycolic hand scrub and then rubbing in an age defying hand brightener? Why yes, yes I do. And by the way, the hand brightener feels and smells so nice. Is there something slightly decadent about dropping oil into my hands from a glass bottle with a glass dropper? Um, yeah. Definitely. For me at least.

You have to understand, I’m the girl that recently rediscovered how yummy it is to apply good facial moisturizer ok?

I don’t have a complicated beauty regimen. I’m not even really sure that I have an actual regimen. But yes I am definitely enjoying the couple of minutes every day where I indulge in myself. My nails are chipped? Time to change the manicure! It’s summer, so I absolutely can’t leave without my facial moisturizer with SPF. Floss! Scrub my hands. Nourish my cuticles! Go into fitting rooms!

Slowing down. I’m actually slowing down. These little things are little pauses. Little only for me and only about me pauses. And they’re nice.

 

 

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Beauty on a Budget

As much as I have tried to keep my De-Frumpiness Project from deeply impacting my wallet, not spending in this department has been impossible. And you know what? That’s the frickin point.

There are so many ways we put ourselves on the back-burner and spending on other things is definitely the easiest for many of us. In my case, I will justify the purchase of clothing and shoes for my kids when theirs shows wear or is ill-fitting or I just find a really good deal. Not so much for me.

I have found great deals on all sorts of things this year, and even with the De-Frumpiness Project, I have more often than not left the item on the shelf or rack muttering something about not having money right now and then spending the money I don’t have on something else for someone else.

The past couple of months I’ve been forcing that to change. It doesn’t always feel as great as it sounds like it would. Yes, you would think I’d be all excited by the idea of giving myself permission to spend on myself but I just don’t. I stress and moan, “But what about the children?”

Lately I’ve been a bit tough on that whiny part of me and have rebuked her with a sharp, “The children have more than plenty and they don’t even take care of it properly!” Which is kind of true. Ok fine, it’s a lot true. My kids are really lucky because they are part of a very big family that lives in the same city as they do. The very big family is of Cuban heritage mostly and is therefore quite fond of gifts for children. We’re the type of culture that firmly believes if you can’t afford gifts for everyone, at least make sure you get the children gifts. Always, the children.

So my children are inundated. They get clothes and toys and toys and more toys and clothes. Do they get all the clothes they need? No. They don’t get shoes for instance or underwear or socks. But they get a lot of the other stuff– shirts and shorts and skirts and dresses and on and on.

The point is, the kids get a lot more gifts than I do. And that is awesome. That is totally fine. That is the way it should be. BUT that is also the fact I have to remind myself of when I’m talking myself out of buying something for myself that is 1) a great deal, 2) that I can afford at that moment in time and 3) that fills a gap in my diminishing wardrobe. Well, mentally it’s diminishing. I’m having a hard time physically purging my closet this year but that’s another roller coaster post waiting to happen.

Anyhow, here are a few things I have been spending on lately and how I’ve been doing just that.

Clothes: I keep trying Goodwill and keep getting mixed results. Ok, honestly? I don’t find much for me. First of all, the Goodwill by my house is huge in an overwhelming way. It attempts to be organized, but let’s face it, it’s Goodwill. It’s not organized. I just don’t have much shopping time and the past couple of months, I’ve had even less as the kids have been spending more and more Wednesdays and weekends with me instead of their dad (also another post). When I’ve gone and browsed, I’ve found a lot of things that look good until I pull them out and take a look at them. They are the wrong size, stained, faded, or just not what I thought they were when I saw them on the hanger. Repeatedly having this happen to me is insanely discouraging. And when I have found something that is the right size, is not faded, is a good brand, it’s about a couple dollars less than I’d pay for it at a store like Ross.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been striking out in the clothes department completely. I’ve actually scored some major hits– at Ross and Marshalls. Surprisingly, moreso at Ross than Marshalls but I had a great haul last weekend so I can’t complain about Marshalls too much. Although I will complain a little bit. When did Marshalls get so expensive? I was strolling through their shoe section and OUCH. I couldn’t find a nice pair of shoes for under $40.

While Marshalls kills Ross in selection, organization, and brands it’s just not that great in the dollar aspect and that is way more important to me right now than anything else. Why? As much as I am mentally in a hurry to get my wardrobe revamped already, I’m not monetarily in a hurry to do so. I’m not even monetarily able actually. So I have time. I have time to go to the Ross by my house (closer than the nearest Marshalls too and with less nerve-wracking parking than the cramped garage the Marshalls is housed in). I have time to wander the clearance racks. I have time to wander the other racks. I have time to try things on. I have time to not take anything because none of it fits me right. And although that IS slightly depressing I am really tired of not looking quite right in my clothes.

This has actually been my savior. My shape has changed a lot in the past year and a half. While this has wreaked havoc on my wardrobe and my options at home, it has really slowed down my shopping. Before, I used to have the type of shape that was pretty standard for a size Small. Ok so not everything fit perfectly but more often than not things fit the way I expected them to.

Not so anymore. And so this means I force myself into the dressing room every single time no matter what the item is. I never used to use fitting rooms, that’s how standard I was. Fitting rooms slow me down. And fitting rooms make me really question and inspect my prospective purchases. So while my wardrobe overhaul is not going as smoothly or as quickly as I’d want it to, I’m more pleased with where it’s going.

Beauty Products: It is all about the drug store sales. Well, it’s mostly about the drug store sales. It’s almost entirely about the drug store sales. If you haven’t figured this out yet, and you really do enjoy the occasional new lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow, whatever, it’s high time you got on this.

For me, CVS is king. Their coupon policy is easy-peasy. Their ExtraCare Bucks are generous. Their Beauty Club makes it even more generous. The fact they’re all over the place makes them easy to access and you can even shop multiple ones in the same day. I learned all about CVS at Southern Savers. Yes, coupons make CVSing even more rewarding but you can get by without them. You’re just not going to save as much money.

This week alone you can score free facial care products, free deodorant, and free floss (perfect for June’s De-Frumpiness project). You can also get a pretty good deal on razors, face wash, and makeup.

The thing with CVS is patience. Stick to the sales and you’ll be a-ok. Also, don’t be afraid to use their return policy. I had a makeup shopping spree a couple of months ago during a particularly good sale week and bought a powder that was supposed to shimmer. I got home and realized what I got was not what was listed on the rack it was in. The packaging on the products was identical despite the fact they had four different finishes. More than a month later, I finally got the chance to go back to CVS with the product and receipt and was able to exchange it for the right one– even with the first product already being open and used. In other words, be unafraid to purchase makeup you can’t try. If, when you get home, the shade makes you look freshly dead, exchange it for a different shade. Easy!

Walgreens is also quite popular with the savings crowd. I can’t suggest them as strongly as I can CVS because they have so many stupid rules and restrictions with their Register Rewards and coupons it’s a true labor to get things done. My suggestion? Don’t put Walgreens on the list of places you regularly shop at but DO make sure you check out their ad if you find you have to go there for whatever reason (prescription, ATM, medicine, etc.). I had to go to my Walgreens last night for their ATM (ING Direct-friendly!), checked their ad real quick and found they have a deal on Goody hair accessories this week– $2 in Register Rewards when you buy certain $2 hair accessories. That means free hair accessories– IF I have to buy something from Walgreens by June 21st. Turns out I do need some saline drops that never go on sale.So I’m wearing my cute little headband today and in the next few days I’ll go by and pick up the saline drops. Free hair stuff!

Of course, it’s also about keeping an eye out. I ventured into Sally Beauty Supply the other day in search of nail tip guides to find they are having a pretty big sale this month which includes a lot of Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals– even on nail art items (currently a thing). I’d honestly never been much of a Sally girl but rest assured I’ll be checking in on their ads more often now. They have lots of specialty items there you just can’t get at CVS and they’re not afraid to mark them down.

Lastly, there’s the internet. Today I purchased the June Mystery Box from Julep. Julep is a nail care company and every now and then they offer mystery boxes for $60. Each mystery box includes anywhere from $60 to $200 worth of merchandise. This month, you can get a limited edition mystery nail color OR the entire collection of Julep nail polish. Um yeah that’s pretty amazing right? But $60? Ouch. Well, use the code JUNEMYSTERY and your box is $19.99 with free shipping. I indulged. It’s $19.99. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend $19.99 on my kids. Each of Julep’s nail polishes go for $14 each and the mystery boxes include at least three of them from what I’ve seen in previous month’s reveals. Julep is a beauty company to watch. They have a nail polish subscription as well and they occasionally offer the chance to try a box for a penny. I’ve always talked myself out of trying it but next time I won’t, especially if the Mystery Box doesn’t disappoint.

Beauty boxes are very popular right now. I keep seeing mentions of them all over the place. Julep’s the only one though that seems to be willing to offer great deals. I’ve heard great deals on Glossybox but a $21 monthly subscription is out of the question. I might buy myself one month’s box for my birthday in August to try it out and then, if it’s as good as I’ve been seeing I’ll probably use Tinsel’s guts towards the purchase of another one in December or January. The value of the box’s contents tend to be much higher than the $21 so it’s worth it if the money is set aside for it. Definitely a great Treat Yo Self type of purchase, eh Nikki?

So there you have it. Some of the ways I’ve been spending on myself this year. I wish I could say spending and not stressing but it’s just not true. I still have issues spending on myself and I wonder if in a way I always will. I didn’t have this problem when I was single (no kids, no nobody) but as soon as the loves of my life started making appearances, this went out the window and what was once a fun thing to do turned into a guilt-ridden experience.

What about you? Do you like spending on yourself? What about on things that are outside the Needs Zone but not in the Communal Wants Zone? Things only you want that no one else would really enjoy?

27.5 reasons I coupon

10/366:  Sunday Coupons
“Sunday Coupons” by TeamJTX on Flickr

Yesterday, while my kids were at my parents’ house enjoying the pool, I took advantage and went to the grocery store. Of course, I took coupons.

I know coupons and those who use them are pretty trendy these days. And there’s a whole television show mostly dedicated to those who abuse these little papers in ways most of us just can’t understand (75 deodorants and you already have 125 at home?).

But I have to tell you, I love my coupons. And I’ve loved them a very long time. After a trip like yesterday, I really can’t understand why using coupons isn’t a universal practice. Coupons are money.

I think I use my coupons in a pretty normal way and yesterday’s trip is my type of awesome shopping trip– the variety is wide and the savings substantial. I bought:

10 Lunchables, 1 Bag of Celery, 2 Ben & Jerry Ice Creams, 1 Can of Baking Powder, 2.5 pounds of Grapes, 2 bags of New England Coffee, 1 Bunch of Organic Rosemary, 1 Pint of Grape Tomatoes, 1 Onion, 1 Bag of Red Potatoes, 1 Pack of Bacon, 2.25 Pounds of Bananas, 2 Cans of Tomato Sauce, 2 Boxes of Baking Soda, 1.35 Pounds of Plums, 3 Lemons, 2 Bottles of Ocean Spray Juice Blends, 1 Box of Honey Nut Cheerios, 1 Box of Lucky Charms, 1 Box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, 2 Boxes of Fiber One Chewy Bars, 2 Sure Deodorants, 1 Degree Deodorant (for Friend), 1 Dozen Organic Eggs, 2 4-packs of Mandarin Orange fruit cups packed in water, 2 Packs of Yoplait Granola Parfaits, 2 Almond Breeze Milks, 2 Packs of Yoplait Fiber One Yogurts, 1 Bottle of Fabuloso cleaner, and 2 Bottles of Palmolive.

I spent $88.27. I saved $77.13 or 47%. What you need to know is $27.50 of my savings were in clipped coupons. I don’t know about you, but $27.50 towards feeding my family and keeping my home clean(ish) is a good deal. None of the items I bought were things I bought solely because I had coupons. I needed and/or wanted everything here.

I know a bunch of you are probably cringing at some of the food I have listed here but you should know this isn’t because I coupon, it’s just the way I shop. I am not a health nut. I also absolutely hate being in the kitchen which reflects in my tendencies to shop for convenience foods. I hate shopping the perimeter of the supermarket. I do what I can where I can and don’t beat myself up for the rest.

The Lunchables, for instance, are the perfect example of this. I had no coupons for those. But my kids like them, the Deli had a huge line, and the ham they eat wasn’t on sale this week. I would’ve easily spent $10 on one pound of the ham alone. So, I said “Screw it” and bought the ten Lunchables at $1 each.

As for time and effort, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t count the amount of time I’m actually in the grocery store because I’m spending that time there whether I have coupons or not. I don’t always have the time to go to the grocery store once a week or more, although I wish I did because I’d save more money. I definitely don’t have the time to go to more than one supermarket a week. I also tend to be faster in a store when I coupon because I have an awesome list and ONLY stick to the list.

It’s hard for me to gauge the amount of time I actually spend a week clipping coupons because right now I’m in the process of transitioning into a binder. This is taking me forever because I have almost a year’s worth of coupon inserts saved and many are doubled thanks to my awesome Mom. In the past week or so, I’ve easily clipped over 400 coupons and I have more to go. I’ll probably time myself when I do yesterday’s bountiful bunch but I have a hunch it’s about one hour and I do it when it’s nice and quiet and the children are sleeping. That much time is for one of those weeks that has a ton of inserts like yesterday’s paper did. Not all weeks have so many coupons.

If you’d like to maybe try using coupons effectively, here are my suggestions.

  • Before you subscribe to a newspaper or go buy them, ask your neighbors/friends/co-workers/family you’re comfortable with and see often (once a week) if they get the Sunday paper and if they do, if they use the coupons. If they don’t, ask if they wouldn’t mind giving them to you. Free coupons are the best coupons. If  no one convenient has them, buy the paper or subscribe.
  • OK, save yourself the trouble and get a binder (they’re on sale right now with back to school clearances and stuff) and get some trading card holders. I didn’t use this system but now that I do I feel like a moron for not using it before. Don’t risk feeling like a moron. To give you a perspective on how many trading card holders you’ll need, I’m currently using about 45 pages one-sided. But, again, I’m using several months’ worth of inserts. You can probably do perfectly well with 10 to 20 pages. Sharon just set hers up and it took her only 45 minutes from start to finish (including clipping the actual coupons).
  • Every time you get a bunch of coupon inserts, take the time to go through them and clip the coupons for things you use regularly or would like to try. If you really don’t care about the brand, then make sure you clip all of the different coupons for the same type of thing so you have more opportunities to match coupons to a sale. If you’re brand loyal, the amount of time spent clipping will be cut but so will the amount of savings. It’s still worth doing! Clip them, sort them, and put them in their handy organizers.
  • Every time you have to go shopping, make a list of everything you need. Then, check the insert to see what, if any of it, is on sale, And finally, check your coupon binder to see what you have coupons for. You can do a happy dance if you have coupons for items that are also on sale because that’s where the magic happens.
  • When I head into the store, I have a very nice list organized by section and I have all of my coupons pulled and ready in a little coupon carrier I have. I actually only use two pockets in it– the one in front is for the coupons I’m turning over at the cashier and the other one is for the coupons I ended up not using for one reason or another. I have not yet taken my binder with me because I feel this would lead me to spend more time in the store and possibly to impulse buys.
  • At the register, I put all of the items that don’t have a coupon at the front, and the ones that do at the back. When it’s my turn, I explain to the cashier “All items behind such and such have coupons. Should I give them to you all at the end or would you like me to pair them up with the items?” Nine times out of ten their eyes light up with my suggestion and ask if I could please match them that would be awesome. So, I go and start matching. Now do you see why I put all of the non-coupon items up front? Buys me some time!

If you really want to get into the groove of coupons, you can use a website like SouthernSavers. It tracks all of the sales and matches coupons for you. It also highlights which items are REALLY cheap and so you might want to try and stock up on those a bit more than usual if it happens to be something you use often.

The reason you stock up when it’s on sale really low is because you don’t want to pay full-price for the item when you run out. Yes, you’ll be paying full-price for some items when you start using coupons but eventually, the number of items you pay full price for get smaller and smaller. On my list, only five items were full-price items. Everything else was either on sale, had at least one coupon, or was on sale and had at least one coupon.

I believe using coupons is like anything else. If you go into it with a bad attitude, you’re not going to get much out of it. But, if you’re willing to learn something and take the time to keep at it, I think you’ll be very pleased with the results.

Recently, GRS did an Ask the Readers post with the question: How much do you spend on food? The couple asking was spending $750 a month– for just two adults. JD’s answer wasn’t far off either. I was shocked.

On average, I spend $615 a month on food– and that includes dining out and other convenience eating I do. My average bill at a grocery store is only $255 a month and that includes all the cleaning products and things like that. Did I mention I have three kids?

So there you go; yesterday it was a savings of $27.50 but over a year, it’s much more. And it’s just too much for me to simply dismiss it as not for me without giving it a real solid try. If you’re pressed for money, I suggest you do too. It’s essentially extra income that’s not taxable!

Ten Challenges to Stimulate Your Savings

Frugality - Penny Pinching
“Frugality” by Living Studios

Whatever the reason, and there are so many, sometimes we need to come up with some extra cash or at the very least, scale back some expenses. To this end, people embark on Fiscal or Spending Challenges. They all work in generally the same way—reduce spending in a particular fashion for a set number of days. At the end, put whatever savings you get (no matter how small) into a savings account of your choice. Here are ten different challenges you can try.

1 ) Dining Out Challenge

Sit-down meals, take-out and delivery, or fast food all take a larger toll on our funds than eating from our home. For a mild challenge, aim to eliminate one category of convenience eating for one week—for example, no fast food. If you’re looking for extreme changes, eliminate at least two, if not all three, of these categories for one month.

2 ) Clothing Ban

You know you don’t need any new clothes when you have mountains of laundry and your family is still able to easily put together complete and tasteful outfits from your closets and drawers. Put the freeze on spending—no clothes, shoes, or accessories for one month. If you want to make this challenge a bit tougher, get rid of one article of clothing for every day of the challenge. If you’re able to sell at least some of the clothes you unload, you’re really amping up your savings.

3 ) Stick to the List Challenge

If your weakness is being lured away from your shopping list, this might be the challenge for you. Write up a list before you get to the market and don’t let anything else in your basket. When you go pump gas, leave the drink in the fridge. When the mission is to find the perfect shoes for the interview, forget the cute sandals and the perfectly priced dress. For a mild challenge, aim to ban all impulse buys for just one week. If you really want a shot at curing this practice, aim for at least 30 days.

4 ) Plastic Freeze

If swiping your debit card is making your funds too easy to get to, put the booger on ice. Go cash-only for a week or even a whole month. Online purchases count as credit card swipes. Paying your bills from your account don’t.

5 ) Say No to the Store

It seems everyone I talk to has a store that is their weak spot. Something about it wreaks havoc on your mental wiring and suddenly Wants and Needs are all in the same pile. For me, it’s Target. Maybe for you, it’s Amazon, the thrift store, e-Bay, CVS, or the convenience store. Whatever your Store, skip it for a month and see just how much of a drain it is on your wallet.

6 ) Limited Spending Challenge

This is one of the more common financial challenges. It’s highly customizable and is often an eye-opening experience on just how low you can go. If you’ve been tracking your spending, figure out what your average spending on non-bills is, either weekly or monthly, and challenge yourself to reduce that by a certain percentage. Go for a quick and easy 10% or get drastic with 50%.

If you’re not tracking your spending, this just might be the reason you start as it was for me. Figure out the amount you think you spend monthly on your bills. Subtract it from the amount you think you receive a month. And then commit to living on only a percentage of what’s leftover.

(Income – Bills) / Percentage of your choice = Spending Challenge Amount

7 ) Complete Fiscal Fast

Seven Days. Zero Dollars. It is that simply difficult. You can’t stock up before you start, except gas. Take your wallet from 60 mph to 0 and keep it idling for seven days. Half Dozen Daily is getting ready to embark on one. Think you can do it?

8 ) No-Spend Days 

Seven straight days is definitely challenging. For some people, it’s even impossible. For this challenge, pick a target number of no spend days for a month. Taking a cue from the Complete Fiscal Fast, seven is a good way to start. Can you take it higher?

9 ) Coupon Challenge

The only challenge that requires preparation a month ahead whether or not you’re new to couponing. For newbies, take advantage of the preceding challenge month to stock up on coupons by buying the Sunday paper every week, asking friends for their discards, printing coupons online, and collecting those little blinkies in the supermarket. Track your grocery and drugstore spending and what your average savings, if any, are without coupons. Finally, visit couponing websites to educate yourself on how couponing works.

If you use coupons now but think you can do better, save your receipts from your shopping the month leading up to the challenge. At the end, figure out what your average savings are currently and challenge yourself to increase them by a certain percentage next month. Generally, the higher you are, the harder it is to keep going so keep that in mind. It is truly a challenge to average savings above even 50% (it CAN be done).

When the month of your challenge starts, get your coupon on. Make sure, like the previous month, you’re tracking your average savings and see what the difference is at month-end.

10 ) Power Down Challenge

Can you say no to electricity for seven nights? In this challenge, your family unplugs every night, at the same time, for seven nights. Candles and battery-operated devices are acceptable but you can’t recharge until the power comes back on. This challenge has a two-fold benefit. One, it will surely help reduce your utility bill while quite possibly pointing out power leeching devices and habits in your home. Two, it’s a great way to test your family’s Disaster Readiness level. Having experienced hurricanes myself, including Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992, I know how important Disaster Readiness is, and how easily it’s forgotten.

Have you embarked on a financial challenge? What was your experience?

Holy Monday Haze

I’ve been sort of pondering whether or not I’d blog today not because I’m in a yucky mood but just because I’m so freaking out of it.

I had a fantastic weekend. So much so that when I came into work today I felt like I’d been away from the office for ages. The Divorce Dessert Party was a success. Seriously. There was so much junk food! And there was this ridiculous amount of alcohol that I am just not used to seeing. After I was done with the kitchen for the night, we had a lovely champagne cocktail toast to freedom. I had a couple little drinkies after that and had a big fat smile on my face. I don’t drink much at all so when I do it’s very nice. I don’t overdo it, but I just mellow out and forget anything yucky could even exist in this world.

I pretty much spent the next day sleeping. I was just overcome with exhaustion from the past couple of weeks and the sleep deprivation and all of that. I was just done. And of course, the alcohol helped keeping me sedated for many more hours than I’d usually sleep. Later that night, I got to cleaning and some friends came over. I played poker! It was two girls and two boys and the girls won! We didn’t even keep playing after that because we were tired and just happy we took out the boys. Silly boys!

Unfortunately because of the massive sleeping I did that day, I had a horrid time getting some real sleep last night and so despite the fact I was totally awake and refreshed this morning, I’ve completely crashed and turned into a drooling incoherent loon. It’s ok though because I just inhaled a bag of Peanut M&M’s.

Oh, for you people out there who like saving money, here’s my Friday night CVS adventure trip for you laid out as best as I can ok?

Right so Friday I got my quarterly ExtraCare Bucks (ECB) in the email, $8 worth. And they came with a coupon that takes $5 off a $25 purchase. Now, I’d been planning an awesome CVS trip with SouthernSavers but this arrival made it ridiculous. Ready?

I bought:

1 Dove Go Fresh Body Wash

2 Dove Deodorants

1 Dove Shampoo

2 bags of Halls

2 Colgate toothbrushes

I used my $5 off coupon, $3 in ECB from my last trip, my $8 quarterly ECB, and $6 in manufacturer’s coupons. One coupon actually stayed stuck in my organizer and I missed it. 😦 I paid $5.02 and collected a bunch more ExtraCare Bucks. Savings on this trip? $31.40 according to my receipt. So then, I went back to the store and bought:

1 Pledge Lemon Spray

1 Skintimate shaving cream

4 Clean & Clear Body Washes

2 Softsoap Body Washes

I used $12.28 in coupons (includes two Buy One Get One Free coupons on the Clean & Clear) and $11 in ECB. I paid 50 cents and I have leftover Extra Care Bucks. Savings on this trip? $43.76. So all of that stuff up there? Cost me $5.52 out of pocket for a grand total savings of $75.16 or 93%. I’m most excited about the Body Washes because it is actually not an easy item to get great prices on (women’s at least, the men’s is TOO easy) and I’m stocked for months.

It’s because of sales and rewards like this that I really adore CVS. They understand developing Customer Loyalty. The checkout process has only been painful for me twice and I’ve never returned to either CVS again. I just wish I could buy absolutely everything there. Publix is my other favorite but they’re just not as good with Rewards as CVS. If Publix develops a serious Loyalty program, it’d be heaven for me.

I finished The Help which was as good a book as everyone swore it was. I think I’ll switch gears and read Kiss & Tell next. I also need to just finish up that other panda  so I can give my kids their snugglies before they have fits.

Coupons 101: Save an average of 73% at Publix this week

A lot of people react to my receipts from drugstores and grocery stores, not because they’re astronomically high but because they’re insanely low compared to the amount of stuff I’m lugging out of the store. Take for example yesterday’s shopping trip to Publix where I paid $39 for $101 worth of groceries. That’s a savings of $62 or 61%. Everyone wants to know how I do it and yet when I tell them I use SouthernSavers they look so disappointed or they even visit the site and tell me they just don’t get it. So, here’s a great way to start saving money right now at the grocery store, snatch up Buy 1 Get 1 Free items. Right there, you’ve slashed your bill down to 50% savings and you’ve done nothing but shop the aisles.

This is where people get really frustrated with me because chances are you don’t need any or even many of the Buy 1 Get 1 Free items right now. Buy them anyways because they’re not going on sale again for about six weeks. That right there is the single biggest change you need to make if you want to start saving money at the grocery or drug stores. Stop making your shopping lists based off what you need and start buying what’s on sale– especially what’s really reduced AND you can get coupons for. Then you store it and it’s already there when you do end up needing it. Not only that but at savings of at least 60% and sometimes even free, you can justify buying things that you might have classified as treats in your family– ice cream, air fresheners, cookies, frozen pizzas, waffles, organic products (YES they go on sale too!), whatever else it is you’ve walked past the aisle and said “No I really can’t justify spending money on that right now.”

Now when you start making the transition to coupon and sales-oriented savings, you’re likely going to have needs to fill right away. If you need it, get it. At the very least TRY and find a coupon for it so you’re not paying the complete full price and check the circulars to all the stores just to be sure it’s not on sale anywhere. Since I started, I haven’t really run into anything like that. I’ve pretty much been able to put off buying it until it went on sale but that’s because I don’t generally wait until I have absolutely nothing to hit the stores.

Anything else? Always aim for a savings of at least 50%. With that in mind, here are some deals at Publix (in South Florida, Publix sales run Thursday to Wednesday) this week that highlight that principle. I’ve gone ahead and added the ones that have matching, printable coupons and will show you what kind of savings you’re talking about that way. If you don’t need these right now, but you do use them, buy them. Don’t wait. You’re not likely to find these savings again for about a month. By the way, the great thing about Buy 1 Get 1 Free Deals is when you get your hands on printable coupons that take a certain dollar amount off one item. Why? Because you can use one coupon for each item. This significantly raises savings.

Buy 1 Get 1 FREE

  • Fresh Express Salad Blend (Reg, Price $3.99)
    • Note: The coupon for this is not printable, it’s a store coupon. Publix has free magazines you can subscribe to. Sometimes, you can find them in the store too. For this one, you’re looking for the Family Style magazine at the front of the store with all their other promo materials. In there you’ll get a coupon for $1 off two bags. Things brings you to paying $2.99 which is a savings of 62.5%
  • Oscar Mayer Beef Franks (Reg. Price $3.99)
  • Kellogg’s Special K or Low Fat Granola (sizes vary, Reg. Price $3.99)
  • Musselmann’s Apple Sauce 6 pack (Reg. Price $2.33)
    • Another store coupon. Go to the front and look for a booklet called “Smart Summer Savings”. Inside, you’ll find a coupon for 75 cents off 1. Get two fliers, get two coupons. You pay 83 cents for a savings of 82%
  • Crystal Light Drink Mix (Reg. Price $3.99)
  • Smart Balance Milk, Half Gallon (Reg. Price $3.59)
    • Print this coupon for $2 off twice and pay NOTHING. Free milk!
  • Weight Watchers Smart Ones Desserts (Reg. Price $2.59)
    • For this one, you have two options. 1) Buy 10 and use this coupon for $3 off. You pay $9.95 and save 62%. 2) Buy 8 and use this coupon for $2 off. You pay $9.36 and save 55%
  • Yoplait Trix or Kids Yogurt (Reg. Price $2.79)
  • Softsoap or Irish Spring Body Wash (Reg. Price $3.99)
  • Lysol Bathroom Cleaner or Mildew Remover (Reg. Price $3.69)

One last deal worth mentioning is not exactly a Publix Buy 1 Get 1 Free but is too good to pass on anyways. Ready? Here we go.

  • Philadelphia Cream Cheese (12 oz) is on sale for $3.19. Buy TWO. Use this coupon (Buy 1 Get 1 Free). Print this coupon twice for $1 off each. Go to the front of the store and find a YELLOW flyer that has coupons. In it, there’s a $1 off coupon for this item as well. You pay 19 cents and save 97%

Buy everything on this list and your average savings will be 73% Happy Shopping and Happy Saving!

Note: SouthernSavers is my resource for couponing. They do the hard work of matching sales to coupons. But since so many of you have recently asked me about couponing and would like to just jump in without buying the newspaper, I figured I’d highlight some of the deals you can do with just online coupons and maximum returns. If you are intrigued by what you learn here, I suggest going to their website. It’s user-friendly, the tutorials are great, and the guides are helpful.

Curious about coupons? “Beginner Deals” at Walgreens this week

If you’re curious about couponing, here are some deals to get your feet wet. No Sunday paper needed for these, just a computer and printer and scissors.

Walgreens (Sale ends Saturday)

Deal One:

Deal Two:

  • Buy 3 Neutrogena Original Formula Transparent Facial bar Soaps at $2.69 each (white box with black stripe)
  • NO COUPON NEEDED
  • Earn $10 in Register Rewards
  • You pay $8.07 (plus tax), get back $10 in Register Rewards making the soaps free and giving you $1.93 extra

Note: SouthernSavers is my resource for couponing. They do the hard work of matching sales to coupons. But since so many of you have recently asked me about couponing and would like to just jump in without buying the newspaper, I figured I’d highlight some of the deals you can do with just online coupons and maximum returns. If you are intrigued by what you learn here, I suggest going to their website. It’s user-friendly, the tutorials are great, and the guides are helpful.