Posts Tagged ‘ frugal living ’

Our $200/mo. Grocery Budget: What I Spent & Saved This Week (11/9-11/15)

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Some of you have wondered where I get my printable coupons. Here are the main coupon sites that I use: Coupons.comCoupon NetworkSmart SourceRed PlumIbottaSnap, HopsterCheckout 51, and Saving Star.  Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are another great source.

This week ended up being quite different than I had expected.  On Sunday, November 9, my grandfather passed away.  He had recently been having some health issues so it wasn’t a total shock, but still, you never really can plan for a death.  He had been saying for years already that he was ready to go to Heaven….he had done what he felt like God wanted him to do here and he was at peace.

He was 91 and had lived a full, good life and left us with such a beautiful legacy.  He and my grandmother were married 70 years and 9 months and loved each other so much!  They spent their lives giving to others in a variety of ways including taking numerous needy children into their home, volunteering at missions and starting a camp for troubled boys.  We will miss him dearly, but knowing he was ready to meet his Jesus and had lived his life well, made saying good-bye so much easier!

As a result of being out of town for a couple of days, I didn’t end up doing much shopping.  And actually, there weren’t that many great deals to be had anyway, so that was kind of nice!

Total Spent: $31.70
Total Saved with Coupons: $3.00
Total Saved with Sales: $3.99
Total Saved: $6.99

Giant: $4.22

I didn’t really need anything grocery wise this week and since the deals weren’t amazing, I decided not to even run to the store.  But then I realized that we needed milk so I had to make a quick trip to get that.  And yes, the jug is almost empty- I forgot to take a picture right away.


  • Store brand milk $4.22
    - will get back $0.25 via Ibotta

Rite Aid: $0 (used grocery cash)
Saved with Coupons: $3.00
Saved with Sales: $3.99

I used $0.99 in grocery cash to pay for this purchase.

I dislike using fluoride toothpaste for our kid’s but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a decent deal on fluoride free toothpaste.  So I was pretty happy to get these 2 tubes for just $0.50 each!


  • Orajel toothpaste $3.99 total (on sale buy one, get one free)

Coupons Used:

  • $3.00 in UPRewards (Rite Aid coupon that print at register for purchasing specific items)

Got Back:

  • $2.00 in UPRewards for purchasing the Orajel toothpaste (can be used on next purchase of any item)

Misc.: $27.48

My mom has sold Fuller Brush for years and when we first got married, I used their Fuller 86 Liquid Laundry Detergentexclusively.  But then I started being able to get other brands free or nearly free with couponing and so I started using them instead.

Recently I began having issues with oily type spots on some of our clothing.  I still am unsure if it’s the detergent I was using or something else, but long story short, I was talking to my mom about it and she convinced me to switch back to Fuller 86.  And truth is, I love the stuff!  It’s super concentrated, so for my front loading washer I only need to use 0.75 oz or  1 ½ Tablespoons.  So a jug like this will last about 172 loads.  It is also dye and fragrance free and quite natural too.  And I have to be honest, it does clean clothes like no other detergent I’ve used.  I probably will still use my “free” detergents for some laundry, but plan to use this on my heavily soiled loads.

I’ve actually considered selling the stuff it’s that good.  If I do, of course I’ll let you know!  It typically costs a little more than this, but my Mom spoils me and gives it to me close to cost.

How to Buy Baby Formula on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Formula on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Formula on a Budget

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A Frugal Mom’s 10 Favorite Baby Items

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Trying to figure out what baby items are worth spending your money on?  As a frugal mom of 3, I know how hard it is to decide whether something is worth buying with your hard earned money!  And so I thought I’d  try to help you out by sharing the 10 items that I would willingly spend my money on again if the one we already owned broke or wore out.  Here they are, in no particular order.

A Frugal Mom’s Favorite Baby Items

1.  Conair Sound Machine
This little machine has been a life saver for us so often!  We live in a house where sound carries easily.  We also live in the city and during the summer months often have neighbors who party loud and long into the night.  This machine makes just enough white noise to block other sounds out and has helped our babies (and older children too!) sleep well even when there’s other noise close by.   I love that it has the option to run on batteries which is great for camping.

2.  aden + anais Classic Muslin Swaddle Blanket
These blankets are amazing!  Yes, they’re a bit pricier than many other blankets but let me tell you, they are worth the extra money.  I didn’t have them with my first two and sometimes I wonder how I managed!  They are now my go-to blanket and I have hardly used anything else with baby #3.  Here’s what I love about them:

* They’re bigger than most blankets and work wonderfully for swaddling.
* They are light weight enough that they aren’t all bulky and annoying.
* I didn’t feel like I had to worry about them suffocating my baby because the fabric “breathes”.
(Obviously, this doesn’t mean that they couldn’t suffocate your baby, but it just seemed less likely to me- as always, use common sense.)
* Because of their size and their light weight design, they work great as a cover-up when nursing.
* They get softer the more you wash them.


3.  Boppy Pillow
If you are nursing, this is one of those things that just makes life a little easier.  I didn’t have one for my first child and often would get a back ache from hunching over when nursing.  The Boppy helped with that by giving me a higher surface to rest my baby on while I was nursing him.   I also used it a lot as a place to nestle my baby when I wasn’t nursing.  When they are newborns, they can lie nicely in the center.  As they get older, it works perfectly to sit them in the middle since the Boppy gives just enough support to help them get used to sitting up.

4.  Bumbo Seat
These little seats are just awesome!  They are perfect to use when your baby is just starting to try to sit up and can’t quite support themselves and they are also great once they can sit a bit better but tire out easily.  I found that using the Bumbo helped my babies be more content because it gave them a change of scenery so to speak.  And the fact that it is easy to wipe clean is wonderful!  Obviously it is great for indoor use, but it is also perfect for outdoors as well.

5.  Graco Pack ‘n Play
This one is a big ticket item but it is definitely worth it in my opinion!  We have a lot of family that live out of state and so we travel a lot.  This Pack ‘n Play folds up compact enough that it is easy to transport and allows us to have a nice little bed for our child no matter where we are.  There is a more expensive model, but personally I wouldn’t bother spending the extra simply because the extra features are not something you are going to use more than maybe a month or so.

And I highly recommend spending a little bit more and getting a waterproof pad to protect your Pack ‘n Play while you are at it.  It’s an easy way to keep it clean!

Goldbug Baby Shoes
I discovered these shoes with baby #2 and loved them!  They are an inexpensive perfect first shoe.  They’re soft and not as clunky as regular shoes and make it easy for your baby to crawl in as well as learn to walk.  And I’ve been impressed with how well they have held up.  They only look slightly worn from being used hard with baby #2 and baby #3 is getting good use out of them as well!  If you are looking for a boy version, I thought these Houndstooth Baby Boy Shoes were quite darling!


Tommee Tippee Insulated Sippy Cup
These cups are hands down the best sippy cups we’ve owned- and we’ve owned quite a few brands!  They won our approval because they truly are leak-proof which is something that no other cup that we tried actually lived up to.  I also really like that they are insulated.

Bumkins Waterproof SuperBib
Maybe I’m picky, but it took me a while to find a bib that I truly loved.  In my opinion, these are perfect for babies up to about 12 to 14 mos.  They’re long enough to cover and keep clothes clean, they are flexible enough to fit nicely and they wipe up well too.  Plus, you can throw them in the washer too if you want to get them super clean!

Once your child gets a bit older, I highly recommend these Green Sprouts bibs.  They’re similar to the Bumkins bibs but are longer and hold up really, really well to more frequent use.  They are reversible too, so if you don’t like having a bib pocket you can simply flip them around and use it that way!

Usborne “That’s Not My….” Books
We love introducing our children to books at an early age.  The Usborne That’s Not My ______” books are favorites of both us and our children!  They feature bright colors, simple pictures and have fun textures to feel too!  And they are made nice and sturdy which is obviously important if you are going to be letting little ones look at them!

10  The Mommy Hook
This handy hook is like an extra hand!  It clips easily onto your stroller or shopping cart to give you a place to hang your purse or grocery bags from.  It’s small enough that you can easily keep it in your diaper bag to use when needed.

Are any of these your favorites?  What would you add to my list?

How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget

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Ebates: Get Cash Back for Shopping Online!

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

If you are like me and like to shop online for the convenience and also because you can often get great deals from the comfort of your own home (especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday) then you really need to sign up for Ebates!   I do about half of my clothing, gifts and home decor shopping online and usually can make about $50 a year this way!

With Ebates you can earn up to 25% cash back when you shop online at over 1,700 stores.  It’s really quite simple!

How to Earn Cash Back through Ebates when Shopping Online

1. Sign up for an Ebates account.  Right now you even get a $10 bonus gift card when you make your first $25 purchase through Ebates!

2. The next time you want to shop online, go to Ebates, click the “Select a Store” tab and choose your store.  You will then be redirected to the stores website.  Shop and purchase the items you want.

3.  After your order is confirmed, Ebates will deposit the cash back that you earned into your account.  You’ll receive your Big Fat Check from them once you have at least $5.01 in your account!

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Our $200/mo. Grocery Budget: What I Spent & Saved This Week (11/2-11/8)

Monday, November 10th, 2014


Some of you have wondered where I get my printable coupons. Here are the main coupon sites that I use: Coupons.comCoupon NetworkSmart SourceRed PlumIbottaSnap, HopsterCheckout 51, and Saving Star.  Manufacturer websites and Facebook pages are another great source.

Favorite buys:
* Huggies diapers $1.49
* Pampers diapers $3.49
* Eight O Clock coffee $1.27 each
* Free Newman’s Own Greek yogurt
* Finish dishwashing detergent $1.32
* Oreos $0.97
* Kraft sour cream $0.83/lb.

Total Spent: -$6.91 (negative number due to gas rewards credit- see end of post)
Total Saved with Coupons: $34.50
Total Saved with Sales: $51.50
Total Saved: $86.00 + $72.25 gas savings

CVS: $14.47
Saved with Coupons: $15.50
Saved with Sales: $6.00

I was super excited to get Huggies diapers for just $1.49 a pack after coupons/sales/gift card promo.  Back when I first started couponing, I often got diapers for this cheap but it has been a long time since I’ve I last was able to get a deal this good.

Looking to save on diapers and wipes?  You might enjoy my post about How to Save Money and Build a Diaper Stockpile.


  • 2 Huggies diapers $11.99
    - used two $3.00 Huggies printable coupons
    - used $4.50/2 Huggies CVS printable coupon
  • Huggies diapers $5.99
    - used $3.00 Huggies printable coupon
    - used $2.00 Huggies CVS printable coupon

Got Back:

  • $10.00 CVS gift card for purchasing $30.00 worth of Huggies products

Giant: $32.91 + $2.00 grocery cash
Saved with Coupons: $13.00
Saved with Sales: $27.94

Before I tell you anything else about this shopping trip, I have to let you know that I shop lifted.  Yes, you read that right.  I got home from shopping and my husband was taking our 9 mo. old out of her car seat when he calmly hands me a jar of JIF peanut butter and says, “Not sure why that’s in there with her.”  My mouth just kind of fell open and I was speechless for a moment.  See, I had given it to Adelyne for her to play with as I shopped.  Eventually it rolled down beside her and I totally forgot about it and walked out of the store without paying for it!  Obviously I’ll be taking it back with me when I go this week to make amends.  I’m grateful the employees at customer service know me because otherwise I’d feel quite silly explaining it all!

As for the things I paid for….I got the Malt O Meal for free, the Newman’s Own Greek yogurt for free (thanks to Saving Star!), the Giant eggs were $1.09, the Pampers were $3.49, the General Mills cereal $0.33 each, the Eight O Clock coffee $1.27 each and the banana was free (thanks to Checkout 51).  The Pledge was not a great deal but I was totally out so I pretended it was a good deal.  <grin>  I paid $2.19 for it which I suppose isn’t too bad but it feels expensive when I haven’t paid more than $0.50 for dusting spray in a couple of years.

The grapes were a goof and not a good buy at all.  There was a coupon in the ad to get grapes for $0.99/lb. if you bought $25 worth of groceries.  Since the children love grapes I figured I’d get some since they were that cheap.  But unfortunately missed the fine print of “minimum of $25 must be met after all coupons and discounts” and alas, but my out of pocket was under $25 in that particular transaction.  (Yes, I often go through self check out and do multiple transactions so that all of my coupons will double.  Giant has policy that only one like coupon will double per transaction.)  So, um, those grapes were actually a bust.  But it’s proof that I’m human and prone to messing up- something I’m quite aware of, but something that I realize you all probably don’t see a lot of on this blog.  So, let it be known that I’m no different than you!

The Pillsbury, Crisco canola oil and Jif peanut butter (that I shop lifted) were all part of the weekly Giant gas reward deals.  And actually, I was to have bought 8 items to get the deal and wanted to get 2 more Crisco oils but they were out of stock.  So I got a rain check for them and will buy them another week.  Anyway,  after the sale prices/coupons and gas rewards I’ll essentially be paying $1.28 each for those things.

(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 $7.50 worth of free gas for purchasing the Nestle and Blue Diamond products.)


  • Pledge $4.19
    - used $1.00 Pledge printable coupon
    - used $1.00 Checkout 51 offer
  • 4 Malt O Meal cereals $1.00 each
    - used four $0.75 Malt O Meal printable coupons (doubled to $1.00 each)
  • Newman’s Own Greek yogurt $1.49
    - used FREE Newman’s Own Saving Star offer ($1.49)
  • Giant brand eggs $1.59
    - used $0.50 Giant store ecard offer
  • 3 Pillsbury flour $2.29 each
  • Cheerios $1.66
    - used $0.75 Giant store ecard offer
  • Golden Grahams $1.66
    - used $1.50/3 General Mills printable coupon
  • Trix $1.66
    - used $0.75 Trix printable coupon (doubled to $1.00)
    - used $0.75 Saving Star offer
  • 2 Crisco canola oil $4.79 total (on sale buy one, get one free)
  • Grapes $4.62
  • Pampers $6.99
    - used $1.50 Pampers printable coupon
    - used $2.00 Ibotta offer
  • 4 Eight O Clock coffee $2.65 each (bought with rain check)
    - used $2/2 Eight O Clock printable coupon
    - used two $1.00 Eight O Clock printable coupons
    - used $1.50/3 Ibotta offer
  • Banana $0.25
    - used $0.25 Checkout 51 offer
    - used 20% back Saving Star offer

Got Back:

  • $7.50 in gas rewards savings for purchasing the Pillsbury, Jif (see note above) and Crisco

Weis: $7.12
Saved with Coupons: $6.00
Saved with Sales: $17.56

I know, this is an odd combination to purchase, right?  But it was an amazing deal!  I was able to get the Finish for just $1.32.  I’ve always used my dishwasher some but I’ve started using it more the last couple of months as a way to help decrease my work load more.  I figure it’s a relatively inexpensive maid.  <grin>  And deals like this make it really inexpensive!

I’m not much of a bought cookie fan- typically I much prefer homemade from scratch.  But Oreos are one of my weaknesses.  I mean who could not like them?  And I’m in the minority that I like the regular and not the double stuffed.  Anyway, I was able to get these for just $0.97 each.  I figured we’d enjoy them as a special treat every now and then.  I’ll probably actually throw at least one pack in the freezer to enjoy later on.  And yes, they are good after they are frozen.  I mean, Oreos are good any time, any way right?


  • Finish $4.99
    - used $0.55 Finish printable coupon (doubled to $1.00)
  • 2 Finish $3.49 each
    - used two $0.55 Finish printable coupons (doubled to $1.00 each)
    - saved $5.00 instantly for purchasing $15 worth of Finish products
  • 3 Oreos $1.97 each
    - used three $0.50 Oreo printable coupons (doubled to $1.00 each)

Sharp Shopper $10.84

This local discount store had some great buys again.  I rarely buy fish sticks but knew that we were going to have some busy days coming up and figured they’d make a quick, easy dinner.  And yes, I got more Oreo cookies!  But these were already crushed and I plan to use them for cheesecake crusts.  You can’t beat that price- and the fact that they are already crushed is definitely nice too.  I don’t know about you, but crushing cookies is not one of my favorite things to do.  Especially chocolate cookies that make it really messy.

The cheese is to send along with a meal that I’m making for a friend.  The sour cream?  Well, I was quite happy to get it for the equivalent of $0.83 a small container!  And this time of year we can use a lot of sour cream in soups etc.  For instance, I made 3 recipes of Creamy White Chili tonight and used 3 cups right there.  And no, it wasn’t all for us.  Although we did eat a large portion of it!  Seriously, I can’t believe how much we eat these days!  My children (that eat) are only 6 and almost 3 but I’m already wondering how I’m going to keep enough food in the house when they are teenagers!

I also grabbed a container of lunch meat.  I really like that this particular kind has no nitrates added instead it uses celery juice as a natural form of nitrates.


  • Two 3 lb. Sour Cream $2.29 each
  • Colby Cheese $2.49
  • Crushed Oreos $1.09 ($0.99/lb.)
  • Fish sticks $1.49
  • Oscar Mayer lunch meat $1.19

Misc.: $0

Bet you all are wondering what this is!  The color is a little off in the picture but it’s the equivalent of almost 4 cans of  homemade pumpkin puree.  My sister-in-law shared a pumpkin that they grew with us and I finally got it cooked up and put in the freezer.

Speaking of pumpkin.  You really should try these No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecakes.  So good!

Credits: $72.25
The last couple 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 $72.25 worth of gas for free as a result.  And since I only buy the grocery items that are part of these deals because they either get me free gas or make me money, I put the savings back into my grocery budget.  (To see the details of these purchases look at my previous Giant purchases under my What I Spent & What I Saved posts.)

How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Diapers on a Budget

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7 Ways to Make Money By Selling Your Clutter

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

I recently came through a month of intensive decluttering and while my goal was mainly to simplify, I was pretty happy to also make almost $75 in the process!  In fact, knowing that I could potentially make a couple of dollars off of something was great motivation for me.  And in the week since I actually made another $165 from selling a double stroller and some clothing that I hadn’t had a chance to sell earlier.

If you are decluttering or are simply tight on money, it is definitely worth trying to sell some of your things.  If you aren’t sure where to do it, here are a list of place that I have used and recommend

7 Ways to Make Money by Selling Your Clutter

1.  Craigslist
Craigslist is a great way to sell things and we’ve had good success using it over the last several years.  While you can post anything, I recommend using it mainly for bigger ticket items as those seem to do well there.  If you aren’t sure how much to charge for your item, simply use the “Search” box to see what others are charging for similar things and go from there.

To avoid being scammed, take only cash.  Also, if you aren’t comfortable having people come to your home, you can instead meet them at a local public place.

Tip: Detailed description and a few good pictures help a lot!  Also, a fairly specific location is helpful too so that people know whether it is worth there time.  For instance, instead of saying “Exton” try “Exton, north side”. 

2.  Ebay
I don’t use Ebay as much as some of the other methods simply because it gets expensive to ship big, heavy items.  But it’s great for smaller things and I’ve done reasonably well selling here.  I was intrigued to learn that coffee mugs and any thing pig related sell well on Ebay!

Before I list something, I like to see if it is worth my time by using the Advanced Search feature to see if similar items have sold well recently.  This is also a great way to figure out what to charge too.  To find these details, once on the search page simply enter the item description and check the “Sold” box.

Tip: Again detailed description and great pictures go a long way in helping your item get attention.  Also be sure to factor in shipping costs.  

3.  Online Yard Sale Facebook Groups
In the last year I’ve become a big fan of Online Yard Sale Groups on Facebook.  Never heard of them?  It’s basically like a great big yard sale online that you can sell items from any time.  To find one, simply search Facebook with your area’s name and either yard sale or resale and likely something will pop up.  If not, create one yourself- but be prepared for it to become a hopping, popular place!

While you can sell big ticket items here, I’ve found these groups to be a great place for selling smaller items and kid’s clothing.  In fact, two groups that I’m part of are specifically for kid’s stuff.

I really like these groups for two reasons.  For one thing you can see a picture of the person that is buying from you which makes it feel safer and less risky than Craigslist.  And asking questions is as simple as leaving a Facebook comment or sending the seller a PM.

Tip: I know, I said it before but it’s so very true!  Excellent detailed descriptions and clear pictures are what will really help you do well here.  It is also helpful to state whether you are going to go with the first person who comments, the first person who can pick up the item, etc. 

4.  Yard Sales
Good old traditional yard sales are still a great way to get rid of things.  We typically have one every summer and I love it for things that just don’t sell well anywhere else.  To keep things simple, we have a small corner in the basement where we put anything that we want to sell at our yard sale.  Want to really be efficient?  Price the items as you add them to the pile!

For tips on how to make the most of your yard sale, read my post 5 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale.

5.  Book Buy Back Site
If you have unwanted books lying around, it might be worth checking with some book buy back sites to see if they are worth anything.  Textbooks and books by popular authors often sell well.  And I love that most sites will pay for the shipping costs too!

Here are the sites that we’ve used with good success:

* Cash 4 Books
* Sell Back Your Book

6.  Consignments Sales/Stores
We don’t have any really great consignment stores around here, at least in my opinion, but the city I lived in before we were married had a great one that I used often to sell unwanted clothing.  It was super easy because I would just stop by with the clothes, wait as they looked them over and took my info and then when I sold $10 worth, they would contact me and I would get the money.  I always made out better than I would have had I tried selling those items at a yard sale and I loved that I could keep “cleaning house” all year round.

Also, many areas have kid’s consignment sales and while I have never tried selling at these, I have friends who have and loved it!

7.  ThredUp
I have bought clothes through ThredUp several times but I have never have used them to sell things simply because I feel like I have better options available.  But I know a lot of people love selling through them.  Basically you request a bag, put your women’s and/or kid’s clothing in it, mail it (postage is pre-paid) and then once your items sell you get paid!  You can then use your payment to buy clothing from ThredUp or simply cash out via PayPal.

What are your favorite ways to make money on your “junk”?

Home Organization: Schoolwork, Artwork, and Keepsakes
Home Organization: Schoolwork, Artwork, and Keepsakes
Home Organization: Schoolwork, Artwork, and Keepsakes

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