Posts Tagged ‘ frugal living ’

Amazon: Get $15 Gift Card when you spend $50 on Household Essentials

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

For a limited time, you can get a $15 Amazon gift card when you spend $50 on select household essentials.  That’s like paying $35 for your purchase!

Offer only applies to products sold and shipped by Amazon.  Get all the details here.

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4 Frugal & 4 UnFrugal Things I Did Recently (June)

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Most of the time I share about the different things that I (we) do to help us save money because that’s what this blog is all about: inspiring you to save money and live well.

But even though I love to save money and am passionate about it, I sometimes do un-frugal things too.  Sometimes I mess up on a coupon deal.  Sometimes I just simply don’t have the energy to do the thing that I should do to save money.  And sometimes I might decide that saving the money isn’t worth it this time around.

So just for fun, I do posts about 4 frugal and 4 un-frugal things that I did recently- you know, let you see a little bit of both!

4 Frugal Things
1.  Defrosted our chest freezers.
This is a job that I do not enjoy doing, but I figured before I fill them up with all the fruits and veggies I’ll be preserving this summer and fall, I’d better go ahead and do it.  Because afterall, freezers do run more effeciently when they are defrosted.  And honestly, it was rather appalling how jumbled they had become!  It felt very fulfilling to get them both nice and organized again.

Speaking of freezers, you might enjoy this post: When should you buy a freezer? (And 4 ways our freezer saves us money.)

2.  Bought clothes for the children second hand.
It’s no secret that it’s much cheaper to buy clothes used.  And I’ve been blessed to be able to get the majority of our children’s clothing secondhand.  I am finding though, that as our son gets older it is harder to find nice used pants for him.  It can be done though, if I’m persistent enough.

A couple of places that I’ve had good success getting used clothes in the past:
- online yard sale (you can often find a local group on Facebook)
- Freecycle
- consignment sales and stores
- yard sales
- Thredup (especially when they have sales)
- from friends

3.  Made butter from farm fresh milk.
In reality, I wasn’t even sure if this was frugal when I did it.  I did it more because I had always thought it would be fun to try to make my own butter.  And it was!

Turns out it actually was rather frugal too.  We get fresh milk from a local farm for $2.00/gallon.  Out of 2¼ cups cream I was able to get ¾ cup of butter plus close to a pint of buttermilk!  So the cost of the butter alone was just roughly $0.34/lb.!  If you include the expense of electricity, you could be generous and say that it was $0.50/lb.  Either way, it was super cheap and it’s really quite easy to do.  And did I mention fun?  I kind of felt like Ma in the Little House on the Prairie books!

4.  Read books for free on my phone.
I love, Love, LOVE the Amazon Kindle app on my smartphone.  I get so many more books read as a result of it because well, my phone is always with me and it’s much easier to take along than a book  Plus, I can get lots of great books for free as well.  Authors and publishers frequently drop their books down to free for special promotions and I take advantage of those times and as a result am able to enjoy many books without paying a cent.

Three of the books that I recently read and enjoyed for free:
- Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews…this is a great, helpful, easy to read book.
- Pinterest Savvy: Strategies, Plans, and Tips to Grow Your Business with Pinterest by Melissa Taylor….if you blog or have a business that could benefit from Pinterest traffic, this book is a useful read.
- Tiny Titan – One Small Gift (Journey of Hope) by Ann Yurcek….a fascinating, amazing story!

4 UnFrugal Things
1.  Allowed flower to die.
So, I had desperately been wanting to get a few flowers and plants to brighten up our outdoors but never got it done because, well, there were just always other things that were more pressing.  Then last Saturday we were driving to a dinner function and went right past this lovely little greenhouse that was still open, even though it was 7 pm.  I begged to stop, my husband kindly obliged and I bought several plants.

I knew I wouldn’t get them planted right away and had good intentions of watering them well the next day.  But I forgot about it until two days later when our son came running inside and desperately informed me that my plants were dying and needed some water!  Thankfully I only lost one of them and although they really weren’t expensive, it was disappointing.

Having fun at the fountain on our walk.

2.  Bought ice cream at a local ice cream shop.
If you follow my Weekly Spending Summaries you know that we have lots of good Turkey Hill All-Natural ice cream in our freezer that I got for $0.50 or less.  And in all reality, we could have just enjoyed some of that.  But we take one night each week and call it Family Night and on those nights we try to do something fun together as a family.

Our last family night together we went on a walk downtown and decided to stop by a local ice cream shop for a treat.  (They make it themselves and it is really, really good!)  No, it wasn’t the cheapest way to enjoy ice cream but sometimes the experience is worth something too!

3.  Left lights on when we were away.
Unfortunately, this happens way too often, mostly when I am going away during the day with the three children.  There’s something about getting everyone out the door single-handedly that just distracts me enough that I often miss turning a light off.  I do try, but it’s just one of those things that I do my best and don’t sweat the rest!

4.  Forgot coupons when I went shopping.
I mentioned in my Weekly Spending Summary that I forgot $4.00 worth of coupons when I went shopping.  I had printed the coupons right before I left and then promptly forgot about them and left them lying on the printer.  There was no way I was going to head back home to get them…wasn’t worth the time or gas!  The nice thing was, someone had left a $1.00 coupon for the product that I was buying on the shelf, so I took advantage of that.  I guess, really then I only lost out on $3.00.

What frugal or unfrugal things did you do recently?  I’d love to hear about it!



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Ibotta- Now Accepted at Weis + Save on Milk, Naked Juice, Dial, Reynolds Wrap & More!

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

If you like Ibotta, you might be interested in some of the other 8 Money Saving (and money making) apps that I recommend!

I’m so excited- Ibotta is now accepted at Weis!  And it’s super simple to use because you only have to link your Weis club card to your account and the offers will automatically redeem when you buy the correct product. Just yesterday I used the $1.00 Dial for Men rebate there and by combining a $1.00 Dial paper coupon with the Ibotta rebate and a sale, I got a great deal on body wash for my husband!

Here are some of the current offers on Ibotta.  If you think you are interested in them, be sure to load them now as they sometimes disappear before the expiration date.  Not sure what Ibotta is?  Read my post explaining it.

One Gallon White Milk – Any Brand – Limited time only. Excludes all flavored & non-dairy varieties $0.25.
Naked Juice® – Kale Blazer™ variety only – 15.2 oz. bottle. $1.00

Naked Juice® – 15.2 oz. bottle or larger. See details. Exclusions apply. $1.00

Naked Juice® Variety Pack – 12 pk. of 10 oz. bottles only. $2.00

Naked Juice® – Chia variety only – 15.2 oz. bottle. $1.00

Naked Juice® – Protein & Greens variety only – 15.2 oz. bottle. $1.00

Good Earth® Tea – Any variety – Any size. $1.00
Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil – Any variety – 30 sq. foot or larger. $0.75

Dial for Men- Any body wash or bar soap- Any size. $1.00
Dial Body Wash- 11.75 bottle or larger. $1.00
Dial Bar Soap- Any size. $1.00
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Lotion Sunscreen – 3 oz. tube or 0.47 oz. stick. $2.00

Neutrogena Wet Skin Lotion Sunscreen – 3 oz. tube. $2.00
Advil Congestion Relief – 10 or 20 ct. pack. $2.00
Advil Allergy & Congestion Relief – 10 or 20 ct. pack. $2.00
Pine-Sol – Any variety – Any size. $0.75

Triple Play Bonus
Redeem any three (3) rebates in-store only and earn an extra $.50. Hurry! This bonus ends Sunday night.

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Weekly Spending Summary (6/8-6/14)

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Some of you have wondered where I get my printable coupons. Here are the main coupon sites that I use:, Coupon Network, Smart Source, Red Plum, Ibotta, Hopster, Checkout 51 and Saving Star.  Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are another great source.

This week was remarkably more calm than the last couple of weeks and it was so refreshing!  We all needed it desperately!  As I mentioned last week, I’m doing less shopping this summer and so this week I only went to two stores.- although I did end up going to Aldi twice.  That was partially because I offered to grab groceries for a friend that just had a baby and I knew she often shopped at Aldi so I offered to go there for her.  I think though that it will end up keeping me from needing to go there this week so in the long run, it really won’t be an “extra” trip.

Favorite buys:
* Ziploc bags that made me $12!
* Strawberries for $1.00/lb.
* Free Quaker oatmeal cup

Total Spent: $96.24
Total Saved with Coupons: $3.00
Total Saved with Sales: $4.19
Total Saved: $7.19 + 40.09 in gas savings

Giant: $23.52
Total Saved with Coupons: $3.00
Total Saved with Sales: $4.19

I had a rain check for the Ziploc bags and after coupons and gas rewards they ended up being a moneymaker of $12.00!  I didn’t really need them but since they were such a big moneymaker, I figured I’d give them to family to use.  I actually could have saved another $4 with coupons if I had just had my head together.  I printed out four $1/2 Ziploc coupons right before I left to go shopping and left them lying on the printer.  I didn’t think about it until I was at Giant and there was no way it was worth taking all 3 children home again just to get those coupons.  It was a good deal anyway!

(If you aren’t familiar with how the gas deals work, basically you earn so much off a gallon of gas when you purchase a certain number of specific items.  This time I earned $0.80 off a gallon, up to 30 gallons of gas, for purchasing the Ziploc bags.)

The Quaker oatmeal cup was free after a Saving Star credit.  Every Friday they have a “Friday Freebie” offer and you can get something for totally free with their credits.  It’s so easy to do!

The Athenos feta was a total splurge.  I suddenly remembered a Strawberry Lettuce Salad that we love that uses feta cheese and I wanted to make it while we had fresh strawberries.  So I got the cheapest feta I could find, but even so it was rather pricy!  If I had planned ahead I could have gotten it on sale with coupons for at least that or grabbed it at Aldi.  But I didn’t.  That is when I’m grateful for all the money I do save.  It allows me to occasionally splurge like this and not have to feel badly!


  • 10 Ziploc Bags $2.00 each
    - bought with rain check
  • Quaker Oatmeal Cup $1.00
  • Atheno Feta Cheese 8 oz. Chunk $4.50

Coupons Used:

  • Two $1/3 Ziploc coupons from Sunday newspaper coupon inserts
  • $0.75/2 Ziploc coupon found lying on shelf in grocery store (doubled to $1.00)

Got Back:

  • 100% back via Saving Star for purchasing the Quaker Oatmeal Cup ($1.00)
  • $24.00 in gas rewards savings for purchasing the Ziploc
  • $5.00 via Saving Star for purchasing $20 worth of Ziploc products

Aldi: $25.56

Grabbed some stuff at Aldi again this week…my favorites like beans, tortillas, onions, potatoes, saltines as well as few other not-so-usual things.  I haven’t seen a good sale on nuts but like to have cashews on hand for a quick snack when I need something to hold me over till the next meal.  I also enjoy snacking on almonds and we also use them a lot in salads.

The bread is to make some bread pudding for our neighbor- told him I’d do it as a Father’s Day gift for him since he loves the stuff.  I need to find a good recipe though.  I’ve never had the stuff before and really don’t know what makes it good!  So if you have a recipe, please let me know!


  • 3 lb. Apples $3.59
  • Potato Chips $1.79
  • 5 lb. Red Potatoes $3.49
  • Corn Chips $0.89
  • 2 Black Beans $0.59 each
  • Almonds $4.99
  • Cashew Halves $2.59
  • Saltines 0.89
  • 3 lb. Onions $2.29
  • Bread $0.89
  • 2 Hot Dog Buns $0.89
  • Tortillas $1.19

Misc.: $87.25

* This lovely head of lettuce is straight from my little city garden aka the flower bed.  :)   You might remember that several weeks back, I bought 6 lettuce plants for about $2.50 cents from a local greenhouse.  I planted them in my flower bed among some other plants and we’ve been enjoying the over the last several weeks.  The variety is called New Red Fire and it’s the same kind that I typically buy at our local farmer’s market.  We love it!

And I love that basically I got 5 heads of lettuce for free.  See, I typically pay about $2.50 for a head of this lettuce at market and so buy paying that much for 5 plants, I saved myself some money pretty easily!

A small sampling of the strawberries that I got.

* $58.50 for strawberries at $1.00/lb.
I was super happy to get strawberries for such a great price at a fairly local pick-your-own patch.  The patch is actually about 40 min. away but it is only 10 min. from my in-laws.  We are so blessed to live in an area that has lots of produce farms and the like.  I realize that I can get fruits and veggies for much cheaper than many of you as a result!

My mom-in-law and a few of my sister-in-laws that still live at home went and picked a bunch of strawberries for me and then came and helped me get them ready to put in the freezer.  I was so blessed!  And yes, I have an awesome mother-in-law (as I mentioned on Facebook)!

My mom never froze strawberries but my mom-in-law always crushed them and froze them that way and then they enjoyed them on cake and occasionally as ice cream topping or in smoothies too.  So when we got married, I decided to give it a try and it’s so simple and I’ve learned to really like having them in the freezer  to pull out for all sorts of things.  In fact, I often mix them with frozen blueberries and my frozen peaches to make a refreshing mixed fruit dish.

* $28.75 for milk money
We get milk from a local dairy farm for $2.00/gal. and so withdrew some cash from our checking account to buy milk there.  Do you see all that cream at the top in those jars?  It’s kind of hard to see, but each gallon has about 3 inches of cream on it.  I often skim it off and use is in recipes or for making homemade whipped cream.  And actually, I recently even made butter with it!

Credits: $40.09
The last number of weeks I’ve been buying various items that are part of the Giant gas deals.  Basically, you get points for purchasing the products and then you can redeem those points for gas.  I was able to get a whole tank of gas (30 gallons) for totally free!  However, only $40.09 of that went back into my grocery budget and here’s why.

Several weeks ago there was a deal where if you bought a $500 American Express gift card at Giant, you’d get back $69.05 in free gas.  We did that deal but are planning to use the card for non-grocery things so that money will go back into whatever budget categories we use the gift card for.  (To see the details of these purchases look at my previous Giant purchases under my Weekly Spending Summaries.)

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Weekly Spending Summary 6/1-6/7

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Some of you have wondered where I get my printable coupons. Here are the main coupon sites that I use:, Coupon Network, Smart Source, Red Plum, Ibotta, Hopster, Checkout 51 and Saving Star.  Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are another great source.

Last week was another busy week for us.  I mentioned in my last Weekly Spending Summary that my husband’s grandma had died and with having her funeral on Monday, it kind of made the week seem short and out of kilter.  Then on Saturday, my husband’s cousin got married.  Thankfully it was a local wedding which made things so much nicer!  We had out-of-area family come for that and they stayed the weekend with us.  It was so much fun to have them around and the lack of sleep from staying up and hanging out was so worth it.

But I’m quite ready for a more normal week again.  It’s been a little rough so far with everyone kind of being behind on sleep and the kiddos getting used to just being here again and having no one else to play with.  They were all kind of grumpy the last couple of days and I was trying hard not to join them!  (Wasn’t terribly successful too many times!)  This morning I decided we needed something to help us out so I went to my Educational Ideas for Kids Pinterest board and found some fun things for my 5 yr. old to do.  He was kept occupied for a while and my 2 ½ yr. old joined him at the table and pretended she was doing school stuff too.  There were a few fights but it was much better than it had been!

You may have noticed that I haven’t been doing quite as much shopping the last several weeks.  Or maybe you didn’t.  I’m sure some of you think I still do a lot of shopping compared to what you are used to doing.  Anyway, if you are really observant you likely noticed that I haven’t been going to CVS and/or Rite Aid nearly every week.  I kind of decided to take a bit of a shopping break this summer for several reasons.  For one thing, summer always tends to feel busy for us, especially since I do a lot of canning and freezing.  Also, my son had been going to kindergarten 3 days a week and now his school year is over so that means most weeks I have to take 3 of them to the store with me, not just 2.  And while I’ve found things that help keep it somewhat stress-free, I still don’t like to make it too complicated!

I’m also not doing as much shopping simply because I have a great stockpile of shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, body wash, deodorant and all of those sorts of things that I typically can get for free at Rite Aid and CVS.  So I think that even if I rarely hit those stores this summer, I should still be just fine.  And if I do actually end up needing one of those things anyway?  Well, I’m okay with having to spend some money on it.  After all, I’m ahead with my grocery budget by quite right now and so it shouldn’t hurt me too much.

Here are a few of this week’s favorite buys:
* Pull-ups for $3.99
* Moneymaking paraben/sulfate free body wash
* Wishbone dressing for $0.69
* Moneymaking Domino brown and confectioner sugar
*32 oz. Olive Oil for $3.99
* Glad trash bags for $2.71
* $0.99 Hellman’s mayo

Total Spent: $25.11
Total Saved with Coupons: $21.75
Total Saved with Sales: $30.24
Total Saved: $51.99 (+ $12 in gas rewards and $6.50 in Ibotta savings)

Rite Aid: $0 (gift card)
Saved with Coupons: $5.00
Saved with Sales: $5.00

I had a gift card that I had received from returning an item that I used to pay for this purchase of $3.17.  I wasn’t planning to go to Rite Aid at all this week but when I saw that I could get this paraben/phosphate free body wash and actually make $2.01 on it, I figured I might as well stop by.  I had some light bulbs that I needed to exchange there sometime anyway.  Unfortunately, they were still out of stock on the light bulbs so I’ll still need to stop back by sometime to exchange them.


  • Sebamed face and body wash $7.99

Coupons Used:

Got Back:

  • $5.00 via Ibotta for purchasing the Sebamed

Giant: $29.23
Saved with Coupons: $10.50
Saved with Sales: $25.24

I had fun getting some great deals at Giant again this week.  Seriously, I save so much money by couponing here!  The only other grocery store that we have in this area (other than Aldi and a few family owned stores) is Weis and while I like them okay, their prices are overall quite a bit more than Giant’s.  And Giant’s sales totally rock compared to Weis too.  So I’m very grateful to be within easy shopping distance of two Giants!

We were really low on trash bags so last week I grabbed both kitchen and regular black trash bags at Aldi.  Go figure, this week they go on sale for a killer price at Giant!  Oh well, I bought them anyway since we seem to go through trash bags really fast these days.   And really, how could I pass them up when they were only $2.71/box after coupons and sales.  I’m actually kind of kicking myself that I didn’t get more since that is about half of what I pay at Aldi and I rarely can get good deals on trash bags.

Yes, I know I just bought flour.  But I guess I’ve been doing a lot of baking for various events and I was almost out again.  I’m still hoping for a good sale on it one of these days soon!

Oh I was super excited to get Extra Virgin Olive Oil for an incredible price!  I’ve been wanting to get away from canola oil as much as possible to avoid GMO’s and so I’m trying to use more butter, olive oil and coconut oil.  Anyway, several weeks ago I was browsing the olive oil section at Giant just to see what their prices were and noticed that the 32 oz. bottles of Pompeian Olive Oil were on sale for just $4.99!  They regularly are $12.49 (sells for even more on Amazon!) and I knew that in the past I had paid about that price for bottle around half that size.  So I double checked the shelf tag several times to make sure I wasn’t missing something.  (I wasn’t.)  I nearly grabbed a bottle right then and there but since I’m so cheap frugal and since the sale was good through 6/14 (yes, you can still get the deal!) I decided to come home and check to see if there were any coupons available and sure enough there was!  So I used them to get 2 bottles for just $3.99 each!  And I also used a Pompeian coupon to get some balsamic vinegar for a decent price too.  It’s not something I use a lot but I like to have it on hand for when I make something that calls for it.

The Hellman’s mayo was a good deal at just $0.99 after coupons and sales and the NP Organic ketchup ended up being $1.29 after coupons and sales.  I like to buy this brand because it uses real sugar instead of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) like most brands.  I can’t avoid that stuff in everything but ketchup is one thing that I can easily and fairly inexpensively buy without it in.

I had a rain check for the Domino sugars and after coupons and gas rewards they ended up being a moneymaker of $6.05!  I go through brown sugar kind of fast since I make lots of Easy Homemade Granola.

(If you aren’t familiar with how the gas deals work, basically you earn so much off a gallon of gas when you purchase a certain number of specific items.  This time I earned $0.40 off a gallon, up to 30 gallons of gas, for purchasing the Domino sugar.)


  • 2 Glad kitchen bags $4.82 each
  • Glad ForceFlex trash bags $6.49
  • Gold Medal Flour $2.99
  • Pompeian Balsamic Vinegar $2.59
  • Nature’s Promise organic ketchup $1.79
  • 2 Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil 32 oz. $4.99 each
  • Hellman’s mayo $1.99
    -bought with rain check
  • Domino Confectioner Sugar $1.79
  • 4 Domino Brown Sugar $1.79 each
    - bought with rain check

Coupons Used:

  • $5.00 instant savings for purchasing $15 of Glad bags
  • $0.50 Pompeian vinegar printable coupon (doubled to $1.00)
  • Two $1.00 Pompeian olive oil printable coupons
  • $0.50 Nature’s Promise coupon from coupon machine inside store
  • $1.00 Hellman’s coupon from Sunday newspaper coupon inserts
  • Five $0.50 Domino’s coupons from Sunday newspaper coupon inserts (one doubled to $1.00)

Got Back:

  • $12.00 in gas rewards savings for purchasing the Domino sugar

Target: $1.63
Saved with Coupons: $6.25

Several weeks ago I made a grocery purchase at Target where I earned a $5 gift card for purchasing the items that I did.  I used this gift card to pay for what I bought this time and so I only needed to spend $1.63 out of pocket.

I hadn’t actually planned to go to Target this week but we were over that direction one evening and I had a clothing purchase that I needed to return so we decided to stop by.  And of course, if I was going to go there anyway, why not get a few deals too, right?

After coupons and sales, the Pull-ups were just $3.99 and the Wishbone dressing $0.62 each.  I don’t usually buy Pull-ups because I can get diapers for less.  But with the package sizes of diapers changing, this is just as good of a deal as diapers of the same size.  Plus they are easier to use with a semi-potty trained child.  And while I prefer homemade salad dressing (such as this Homemade Mexian Dressing), our kids don’t care for it.  They’ll eat huge mounds of salad if they can have Ranch dressing and since I have yet to find a good homemade Ranch dressing recipe, I just buy it and look for ways to get it as cheap as possible.


  • Pull-ups $8.99
  • 2 Wishbone salad dressing $1.99 each

Coupons Used:

  • $3.50 Pull-ups printable coupon
  • Two $1.00 Wishbone printable coupons
  • $0.75/2 Target Wishbone printable coupon

Got Back:

  • $1.50 via Ibotta for  purchasing the Pull-ups

Credits: $5.75

I cashed out my Ibotta credits.  LOVE this app!

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