Mean Extreme Couponers Suck

I probably shouldn't be writing my rant now, but I'm frustrated. This morning I had an ugly encounter at the free newspaper box with a Smash & Grabber (S&G). I got up early for work today to get some of the free papers with inserts, before I get going on my bicycle. In the past, I've stopped at the box on the way to work but its too heavy to carry a bunch of extra newspapers or inserts in my panniers. So I drive down to the corner, get some papers and come back home and get ready.
Well, today at 5:55am I pull into the empty parking lot behind some car that just pulled in. And, I'm thinking uh oh, where is that car going - there's nothing open yet in this place. Sure enough we both pull up to the box and the bitch jumps out and starts wrapping her arms around the whole pile of papers. I approached as she's grabbing them all and asked her if I could have some. She says, "no you don't want these they're old ones." I said no they're not, they're today's and I'd like to get some. No, get away from me, she says. Now, I'm not really that threatening of a person, I'm short and petite - compared to this youngster. I said, if I had them I'd share with you, plus I wouldn't take them all anyway. She just kept saying get away from me and threw the whole pile through her open car window and jumped in her car. I was so pissed and really rattled, and now I don't know what to do next time. How damn early do I need to go there?
I went home and told my DH what happened and he couldn't believe it, and was concerned for my safety. Actually, he could believe it because the whole couponing world is spinning insanely on its axis these days.That stupid TLC Extreme couponing show, and now the local Tampa news is hopping on the bandwagon. Too many unethical, cheating and desperate people are starting to tarnish the name of couponing. As I drove away from the encounter, I wondered what the bitch was going to do with twenty sets of inserts, was she a reseller? Could be since she didn't strike me as being bright enough to know how to actually use that many coupons. Maybe she was just a runner for a reseller, driving around to multiple news boxes in the dark hours of the morning to clear all the boxes. Anyway, I think whatever her motivation she looked like she probably needs the money more than me.
Whatever the reason, people are getting desperate to get coupons. They raid the flyers from stores - when I went to Winn Dixie this week to get some of the $5 off $30 coupons in the flyer, the rack was empty on the first day of the sale. They raid the inserts from the newspapers, they take all the tear pads from stores, and peel all the peelies off the products and take all the blinkies. Its getting to be way too competitive, and mean. Its a mean business I guess for some of these people.
So, I'm glad for the news that Publix is going to be issuing a new, stricter coupon policy in a few weeks. I'm hoping it will cut the problems due to smash and grabbers. The store manager at my neighborhood Publix said it would be online May 14 for everyone to read. I hope he's right, I'll be checking.
Meanwhile, I'd like to ask everyone to just chill out about coupons. There's always going to be more deals, if you miss this one. Don't be mean. Don't clear shelves of all the product. Use the coupon correctly for the proper product and size. Follow the store rules. Be nice to your cashier. Try to resolve any issues with honey and sweetness, rather than being mean. Be nice to your fellow couponers you see in the stores and don't fight over a deal - it's not worth it. And to avoid coupon S&G'ers, try to find other sources of coupons rather than buying them from a clipping service or Ebay.

Spaces In My Stockpile

Even though I've shopped twenty eight times already this month, there are some items I need and use often that I'm running out of. I have a decent stockpile, but now I'm getting nervous I might actually have to buy something when its not on sale. Granted, some items like my hubby's 2.5 gallon water jugs are never on sale and I get them with overage, or his roasted peanuts in the shell. But other items that sometimes are on sale and free are running low, like I mean I'm down to a couple. Here are the things I need and am anxiously waiting for a sale and coupon matchup to happen (maybe Publix or GM will see this)
  1. Yogurt - I was only able to get two of the Yo-plus last week since the IP coupon has not reset for me, and the insert coupons have only been for $0.50. I've been stocking up the Voskos yogurt this week since its free with coupons, but the expiration date is only out to the end of May so I can't buy more than I'll eat in a month. So, I'm on the hunt for those processed products with a bit of preservative or ultra pasteurized dairy to last a bit longer than a month.
  2. Croutons - I was down to the last bag for our daily lunch salads so I broke down and spent some overage on the Chatham croutons that are on sale for $0.99 each with no coupon! The last time I got croutons last fall they were free and I stocked up and they are just running out. Hopefully, something will come up in the next month for croutons.
  3. Coffee creamer - I was down to the last creamer before caving to buy a couple that were BOGO with a 0.50 coupon, meaning I spent about a dollar on them. In the last year or more I have been able to be fully stocked and the creamer was free or less than a quarter. The matchups have just not happened recently, or I missed out on the blinkies to make it a deal.
  4. Ziploc bags - Actually, I have a ton of all the sizes except the size I use 10 of every week, the snack size. We use it to make our salad dressing packets. I've had to buy them at regular price with a $0.50 coupon so they actually cost me money, from my overage of course. But still, I like to feel like I got a good deal and I don't think I did.
On the other hand there are some things I have way too much of because we've changed our diet some and just don't think to eat these foods too much anymore
  • Morningstar burgers - we have about 20 boxes of these things we used to eat all the time, especially for breakfast with eggs on the weekend. But then DH bought the Morningstar sausages one time and decided no more burgers for breakfast. Plus I think the black bean burgers make him need gas-x or phazyme so he didn't want to eat them anymore.
  • Starbucks ice cream - we still have about 8 pints of this stuff. Its just not as good as Ben & Jerry's so when there was a choice, I go for the B&J.
Anyway, I'm sure that a bunch of you have stuff you got and its just not moving either. So, the solution is it donate it before its expired, sell it at a garage sale if you can, or change your menus and make a conscious effort to include the food in your diet until the quantities are manageable. One thing I do now when buying for a stockpile is check expiration dates and do some quick mental math to determine if we can consume all the product before the date, based on how much of the stuff we eat now. Its kind of hard to do with stuff like mustard or relish, but that stuff lasts forever and it goes on sale a lot.
 
How's your stockpile holding up?

How to Be Smarter With Your Smartphone

You may recall for my birthday present to myself earlier in April, we ported over our land line phone to a new smart phone. I absolutely love my smart phone and learn lots of new things to do with it all the time. Maybe I'll share some of my favorite apps too sometime. Anyway, I probably won't love the bill that comes along next month so I'm trying to justify the expense. There are a lot of ways to use this thing to make you feel like you're getting your moneys worth, so I thought I'd share a few with you.
 
  1. Ditch the phone on the desk - GONE! The landline phone is now obsolete and ready to be boxed up in its original box from fifteen years ago, and sold at our next garage sale (which will probably be in October thanks to a neighborhood garage sale nark). And the caller id box is gone too, and all the wires under the desk and trailing along the walls.
  2. Ditch the watch – I have worn a watch all my life until I got a smart phone. Being the prompt, timely person that I am – I like to ALWAYS know what time it is. Now, I don't need to wear my watch anymore since my smart phone knows the time. Although, I still don't always carry my phone with me and I go thorough withdrawals about not knowing the time when I'm biking, motorcycling, walking around Busch Gardens (they don't have clocks there either and we've dubbed BG a no phone zone), or when I'm at lunch at work reading. But I do look at my wrist where my watch used to be a little less often.
  3. Check for the cheapest gas price – there are plenty of FREE apps out there in the Market (https://market.android.com/) to help map out the cheapest gas station. Although we don't really use that much gas on our motorcycles, and none on my bike – we do occasionally drive to the grocery store when we're getting a heavy load (like this week with a bunch of free Powerade and Honest Tea). Anyway, these apps might save you a few pennies.
  4. Garage Sale shopping resale prices – again I don't go to garage sales, but I might so I can monitor who is having them too often and turn them into the city for a code violation (just kidding!!). Anyway, when you're garage sale shopping you can just look up on the Internet on your phone, the item you're perusing and see what the going price is on Ebay. You might find some treasure for $0.25 and be able to sell it for $50 on Ebay. It's also a great way to check prices of items any time you are shopping to determine if you're getting the best price.
  5. Ditch the Ipod – Even though I love my Ipod Shuffle and Nano, they are annoying that I have to upload my own music at home from my computer. I just reloaded my biking ipod after listening to the same set of 400 songs for about four months – much too long! Anyway, with the smart phone I can just play my music that I've purchased through Amazon.com MP3 Cloud Player and they store in my "cloud". Yes that's cloud computing at its finest. Music that is stored out in web space that I can access from any of my sources – laptops, smart phone, desktop computer.
  6. Ditch the point and shoot camera – The quality of the photo and video on these new smart phones is amazingly great! It doesn't replace the Nikon DSLR camera, but for those casual events or activities when you don't want to lug around a HUGE camera, the smart phone works just fine.
  7. Ditch that old calculator on your desk – the calculator on the smart phone is handy and shows you the result in big numbers, and you always have it with you. So now I've cleared away the clock, the calculator, and the landline phone off my desk at home - its big and bare!
  8. Mobile coupons – many merchants (Target is one) now have apps where you can just show the cashier your phone coupon and they scan it for a discount.
  9. Ditch the book – a free app Overdrive Media is an ebook reader, compatible with Hillsborough County Libraries where you can check out free new ebooks for seven days, and read them on your smart phone.
So now I hope you feel smarter using your smart phone, instead of wasting your time checking email, the weather, the sports, playing games or texting. None of those activities save you any money or make you smarter.
 

My Publix Trip - 24 cents

I thought for sure there wouldn't be ANY Bic razors by the time I got to Publix, but was surprised to see a few of the mens comfort 3, but a ton of ton the womens Soleil razors. I decided I would print out the facebook coupon HERE and go back tonight to get the womens razors.
 
So, here's my shop even though the obvious overage items were gone. Got some cat food and poise for a little overage.
 
25-Apr 41   77.92 15.57 64.48 tax 0.24 40 -99.69% savings
Product qty price subtl B1G1 -Q   total Q# Q details
Grape Tomatoes 1 2.00 2.00       2.00    
Eat Smart Vegetables 2 1.67 3.34       3.34    
banana 2 0.25 0.50       0.50    
Voskos Yogurt 12 1.00 12.00   12.00   0.00 12 (8) $1/1 + (4) B2G1 printable
reusable bag 2 0.99 1.98   1.98   0.00 2 free bag wyb 4 honest tea PQ
Honest Tea 12 1.25 15.00   13.50   1.50 12 $1/1 MQ print + B1G1 MQ
Vita Salmon 3oz BOGO 2 4.59 9.18 4.59 2.00   2.59 1 $1/1 seafood hangtag
Bic razors BOGO, 3 pk 4 5.49 21.96 10.98 12.00 1.54 0.52 4 $3/1 MQ 4-10ss
Purina Beyond cat food 1 lb 2 2.79 5.58   8.00 0.39 -2.03 4 $2/1 MQ + $2/1 TQ
Poise liners 2 3.19 6.38   10.00 0.45 -3.17 4 $3/1 PQ + $2/1 MQ print
$/$$ coupon   0.00 0.00   5.00   -5.00 1 $5/$25 SAL x5/2

Free Gifts For Mom

I love to get these freebies from Vistaprint! Free photo coffee mugs, t-shirts, calendars and photo books make such a nice frugal gift. 6 Gifts for Moms! The Gifts are Free, Just Pay Shipping and Processing! Just remember to click through the other offers that can make your free deal into a bigger deal. I think its time for me to get a Tshirt again, they are nice and light for the hot summer days.

Happy Easter

Here's to hoping you have a great day!

Frugal Beauty Tips - How to Save Money and Still Look Amazing

Every woman wants to look great. However, in this economy, most women can’t afford to spend a fortune on beauty products. Luckily, women definitely don’t have to break their budget to look amazing. They simply need to know the three important rules of looking beautiful on a budget.

Rule #1: Learn When to Spend
Expensive is not always better. Even when it is, it’s not always necessary. When shopping for beauty products on a budget, women must know when to save and what products to spend a little extra on. For example, expensive conditioners really will leave your hair healthier, shinier, and silkier, especially if you color your hair. However, you can skip the expensive shampoos. As long as you use a good conditioner, you probably won’t even notice the difference when switching to a more affordable shampoo.

Another example of this is with nail polish. The fact is, all polishes chip. It’s an annoying fact of life. To make your polish last longer, you need a great top coat. If you spend a little extra on your top coat, you can save on the polish.

Rule #2: Don’t Be a Beauty Snob
Many women believe that they need to purchase expensive cosmetics to get quality. This is simply untrue. Supermarket brands are surprisingly high quality. If you have a hard time believing this, compare the ingredients in luxury cosmetics and supermarket brands. Many times, you’ll find that the ingredients are very similar.

There are also certain cosmetics that should always be purchased cheaply. Never spend more than a few dollars on blush, eye liner, lip gloss, and eye shadow. It’s okay to spend a little more on foundation, mascara, and lipstick, since these products tend to be the staples of many beauty routines.

Self tanners and lotions are also products that should be purchased at your local supermarket. Many women actually prefer supermarket self tanners to those sold in department stores. The only type of lotion that women may want to splurge on is their facial moisturizer. Preserving the health of your skin will actually end up saving you money. Healthy skin doesn’t need expensive makeup to look great.

Rule #3: Multi-Use Products Are the Frugal Beauty’s Best Friend

So many women completely overlook multi-use cosmetics. Many different cosmetic manufacturers make all over color sticks that can be used on the cheeks, eye lids, and lips. Bronzer is another product that can be used in a few different ways. Brush some bronzer on the cheeks and eye lids for a simple, fresh-faced glow. Not only do these products save money, but they help women simplify their beauty routines.

If you find yourself in a pinch, many lipsticks can double as blush, lotion can double as hair smoothing serum, and eye shadow can be moistened and used as eye liner. To be a frugal beauty, women need to be creative, savvy, and willing to stop believing that affordable always means low quality.

This guest article was contributed by Kelly Austin from Higher Salary. Visit her site for information about the average medical billing and coding salary and pay information for other popular careers.

Living Frugally While Studying Abroad

 
Some little girls dream of their weddings from age three. I on the other hand, dreamt of living in Istanbul (and many other international cities) from age 5. Every time I would go on an international vacation with my family, whether it was Turkey, Spain, France, Argentina, or even Zambia, I imagined what it would be like to live in the apartments overlooking the main squares of various metropolises. These vacations were lots of fun, especially because my dad was footing the bill for a week or more of travel. However, when I decided to study abroad, I was under a much more stringent budget. My overall stay couldn't exceed more than the tuition, room, and board of my home university. Although my home university was private, with expensive tuition, this ended up being VERY difficult endeavor. If you plan to study abroad in Europe or even Asia, things can get pretty expensive. Here are some tips to help you save money during your exciting abroad experience.

Before You Go: Choosing your Destination

If money is a big issue for you, you should choose your location wisely. If you barely have $300 to spend a month, Moscow (one of the most expensive cities in the world) probably won't be the best choice. You should find a place where the currency exchange rate works in your favor. Try going to South America or Central America if you are an American! Countries in this region are likely to give you bang for your buck. Also, just because the exchange rate works to your advantage doesn't mean a city will be cheaper. Ask your program director or study abroad office for some financial advice! 

Live with a Host Family

If you have the option to live with a host family during your study abroad semester/year, you should definitely consider it. Most programs, such as the Center for International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and International Studies Abroad (ISA), provide home stay options. Home stay options usually guarantee and incorporate at least one or two meals a day for students. This saves you from finding and funding your own (often expensive) meals. Usually the home stay option is not significantly more expensive (it's often cheaper) than living in a university dormitory. Plus, by living with a family, you will get a better acquainted with the cultures and traditions of a country or region!

Evaluate Costs of Living in an Apartment Versus a Dormitory

If you are unable to find a cheaper home stay option, make sure you check out local apartment costs. Many times, monthly rent can be much cheaper than the boarding costs of a dormitory. Programs usually allow you a grace period to leave a dormitory when you arrive. Living in an apartment can give you the independence and experience to truly get to know a city! 
  
Don't Buy Souvenirs until Your Last Week

My greatest expenses during my studies abroad: my unnecessary shopping expenditures! I traveled within Turkey almost every weekend. I wanted to buy an item from every place I visited. After all, you want to remember a place long after you visit it. The reality, those souvenirs mean NOTHING to me now. If you really want to remember a place, take great pictures. If you just NEED to buy something, buy a postcard from the various cities you visit. Tell yourself you won't buy anything until your last week of your study abroad experience.  You will be less likely to buy everything in sight, as the novelty will have probably worn off!
Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online college. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com.

Code Violation

So we've lived in our same house for over seventeen years and we never had a garage sale, until this year. Actually, we've had three this year already, the most recent was last weekend. It was a quick, well organized event starting at 8 am and ending at 11 am when we promptly picked up the signs and then the traffic stopped coming. But the thing is, we live off of a busy thorough fare so we get lots of traffic, and there were usually at least three to six cars parked on our street during the sale those few hours, especially during the eight o'clock power hour (where we made over half our profits). It was a nice morning and everyone seemed happy to be able to score a deal - especially our repeat customers the ones who prowl the sales every Saturday morning.
 
Anyway, some anonymous person out there apparently doesn't appreciate our sales because they turned us into the City for a code enforcement violation. It seems that this little town doesn't allow yard sales more than once every 6 months. Well, who would have figured that one out?  Maybe its because It could be an eye sore or a traffic hassle. I'm thinking someone didn't like having to slow down to carefully drive through the cars parked on both sides of the street. I feel like parking both our cars on the road, one on each side to make the speeders slow down - but I'm too afraid they'll just smash one and drive on.
 
So, we've come up with a plan. We talked to our neighbor and we''re going to just have our next sale in our neighbors driveway across the street. We can have one every quarter if we alternate our driveway with her driveway. Besides then we'll have lots of stuff and not run out since thats usually why we close up shop when we run out of stuff. And actually we're learning about yard sales now that we've had a few. If you have your stuff priced right, you don't need to haggle - the product will sell to the next person. A lot of people asked me to sell something for $0.50 when it was marked a dollar and I said no, it would all be gone in a couple hours anyway. So they would just buy it at our price but they would check out with DH. After the first hour, he had three times the amount of money I had. I figured all the women who wanted to haggle but were turned down, just went to him to pay. Maybe it was one of them who turned us in, hmmm.
 
 

One Bottle to Saving Money, the Planet, and Your Sanity

A look at the ingredients list or price tag of any household cleaning spray or shampoo is usually enough to curl your toes.  
 
Parabens are called "gender-benders" in the scientific community for a reason, and bleach leaves an awful smell from vapors that actually irritate lungs, skin, and eyes, especially of children and pets.  Moreover, items like personal and home cleaning agents—even when on sale—aren't always cheap.  The cost on the environment is a heavy price to pay, and more directly, they aren't always cheap on our personal bank accounts, especially since they don't seem to last very long.

Conventional cosmetics and cleaning companies make us pay good money to feel like we're doing the earth and our bodies a favor.  But not Dr. Bronner. For over 60 years, Dr. Bronner's line of soaps has appealed to thrifty eco-enthusiasts across America.  Now, their line is fair trade, organic, and still affordable.  Best of all, they're multi-purpose.  Save money and time by making your own shampoo, face wash, and household cleaning spray with just one diluted bottle of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap!
 
DIY Shampoo and Body Soap
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap
  • Optional 2 tsp jojoba oil for dry hair
  • Optional 5 drops of lavender or tea tree oil for oily hair
Mix the ingredients together in an empty bottle and shake before use.  It's watery, but its lathering capabilities will surprise you; try flipping your hair over your head in the shower and applying directly to your scalp so it doesn't just run down your neck.  Because lavender and tea tree oil are natural antiseptics, they'll help de-grease an extra grungy scalp (especially if you use a lot of hair products).  You can add the essential oils yourself or just buy the lavender or tea tree oil varieties they have at the store (they have 8 scents in all, each infused with different essential oils).  The eucalyptus and peppermint soaps do the best jobs at clearing sinuses, so stock up now in preparation for spring.
 
You'll find that as you use this gentle shampoo, your hair's natural moisture will keep you from having to spend as much money on hair products.  There's no sense in stripping your locks of helpful and natural oils just to replace them with parabens and petroleum.  As long as you wash a few times a week and use fewer chems, don't ever doubt your cleanliness.
 
DIY Face Wash
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap
No, you read that right.  It's that easy.  Whether you have fairly easy-to-please skin or the kind that has you prowling www.acne.org (which gives Dr. Bronner 4.5 out of 5 stars, by the way), Dr. Bronner's soaps are gentle on your skin and just tough enough on germs.  The mistake most people with problem skin make is stripping it dry, causing oil glands to go into overdrive.  Just follow cleansing with your typical toning and moisturizing routine and watch your pores shrivel, skin clear, and stress drop.
 
DIY Home Cleaning Disinfectant Spray
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap
  • 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil
Tea tree oil was recently discovered in an Italian study to inhibit the spread of bacteria—even the fearsome H1N1 virus.  Rather than relying on bleach (and its toxic vapors) or low-grade pesticides to clean your tiles and counters, try mixing these ingredients in an old spray bottle to disinfect almost any surface.  Tea tree oil isn't toxic (unless you down a whole bottle of it at once), so you don't have to worry about the kids and animals touching the surfaces you've cleaned.


Credit: Dr. Bronner
Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she's been. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.