My Publix Trip - Saved $98.64, Spent $2.07


There are a ton of great stockup deals going on at Publix this year, and it seems like everyone is going into a frenzy to get the moneymakers. But I think its unnecessary, because really do you need all that stuff? Sure, we all have people we donate to; but do they appreciate it as much as a couponer who has done her homework, gathered and cut coupons and gone to the store - only to find the shelves empty? We are fortunate there are a bunch of freebies and cheap products this week, but please be considerate and make a special order if you want more than a reasonable amount.


Anyway, the snapware was gone so I got a raincheck, but surprisingly there were plenty of OM Shaved meat packages, and the vitamins too. I actually did two shops so I could maximize my Winn Dixie coupons, so each pile is an order. Together I spent $2.07, and saved $98.64.

My Publix Trip - Saved $91.86


I've been staying out of the store since I ran out of Winn Dixie $5 off $30 coupons in hopes that the new ones I ordered will be here any day now. There aren't that many great deals but I wanted to see if there was any Emergen C (free with coupons) to use a filler to get my order up, and to see if Sundown vitamins are on sale (they are $2.67 for Vit D). I didn't have my sundown coupons so I couldn't get any today.

So the only overage I had to work with was the $10 off $50 gas card. I forgot to see if the Ronzoni pasta that is covered by coupons is on sale but I'll probably print some of those too for next time. Anyway, I used up my Sabra raincheck, now I'm all out of tricks in my hat to bring up my order until they have some good sales.


Today I ended spending $51.24 for a $50 gas card and groceries (really, only $1.24 on groceries) and saved $91.86.

2013 Financial Review of Expenses

It's always interesting to figure where your money goes. Even if you track receipts and sync up all your investments with Mint.com, its still a little blurry and murky to pin point the exact amount of money you take in and put out. Really our finances are one big game of offense and defense, with the goal being to gain in the end. That means if your offense is weak (you don't take in a lot of money), you have to be really good at defense by minimizing spending and getting the most of the money you do spend. If you have strong offense and make a lot of money, its really tempting to spend a lot and then you really aren't any better off than the household that has a weak offense.

In my opinion my DH and I don't have much offense, since we are state employees and of course the State of Florida has not been generous with wages - ever. We get paid in sunshine. So, we have a strong defense and minimize what we spend in most areas, but we get what we want in other areas. We are fortunate to have already paid our dues working in corporate America and made decent wages years ago, where we paid off all our debts - student loans, mortgage, vehicles and credit cards. I'm going to say that even though we are frugal, we are not scrooges. There are certain luxuries, pleasures and conveniences that we "want" and are willing to pay the price for. With that being said, even though there are some discretionary expenses in our budget we try to get them as inexpensive as possible. There are many things we do in our life that are absolutely free - like gather firewood from curbsides when a tree is chopped down, split it with our hydraulic splitter and enjoy backyard fires in the chiminea every weekend.


Our household expenses for 2013 were $32,177. Here is a breakdown:

  • Travel (7,037) - this was our largest categorical spending. In the past few years we've had to remodel our home, so we traveled less. This was 21% of our budget and I see this staying the same whether its for a big household project (next year is a new roof) I would like to have about 20% discretionary budget to either travel or make a big purchase.
  • Allowance (6,000) - we each get $250/month to do as we want that doesn't come out of household budget. DH buys cigarettes and goes racing. I buy electronics and victoria secret. This is also where beer kegs come out of budget. Allowance also includes dining out at our favorite pub for wings and beer on Fridays and Saturdays. This is one area we could try to cut back since most of my allowance just goes into my allowance account and is more than I need.
  • Maintenance (car/mc/home 2,876) - this is kind of large this year because we had our 15 yr old Ford Explorer painted at Maaco, and we also had brakes replaced on both cars, plus motorcycle maintenance is a rip off. Motorcycles are not frugal when you consider the maintenance and insurance costs.
  • Home Insurance (1,960) - a necessary evil, but luckily we're not in a flood zone and we're lucky State Farm still finds us worthy of insuring in Florida.
  • Life Insurance (1,860) - these whole life insurance policies are not really necessary now in our life, but we keep them because cash value is worth more than we've paid in premiums. Actually, we have pretty risky lifestyles with our daily commuting by bicycle and motorcycle, and if one of us die, it means a loss of future pension and social security income for the household. So maybe we do need these policies.
  • Electricity (1,702) - we spend way to much on electricity but with our pool pump, hot tub, chest freezer, 2 refrigerators, kegerator and electronics its to be expected. We try to unplug when we can, empty the hot tub in the summer and I'm trying to get us back to just one refrigerator if we can get rid of all our food.
  • Internet/Cable TV (1,539) - This is an expense we should work on lowering. DH will not give up live sports broadcasts, and I like good fast internet and wifi. But we should threaten Verizon FIOS and try to get them to lower our rates or something - maybe they want to sponsor me?
  • Cell phones (1,409) - this category was expensive because I upgraded to a new Samsung S4 and my plan increased to $56/month. I passed on my old Samsung Epic to DH and his plan through Ting is only $20/month. So next year we'll spend $500 less in this category.
  • Car Insurance (1,212) - our 10 yr old car and 15 yr old truck should be a lot less expensive to insure, but this is Tampa where over 40% of drivers are uninsured. The majority of our policy expense is uninsured motorist coverage which we have at 100/300. Next year we plan to lower this to 50/100 since we don't drive much. It should save us a few hundred dollars.
  • Groceries/HH Supplies (1,248) - We purchased $21,529 worth of product using cash and gift cards this year. This involved 355 trips to stores. I save every receipt and log in the spending and saving, which I have done for years. We saved 88%, which averaged out to $104 per month spent. This is significantly less than we have bought in years past because couponing is getting harder to do with stricter usage policies, increased competition for goods and smaller value coupons. I expect to continue to coupon to save, but plan to continue to budget $100 per month for groceries and HH supplies.
  • Motorcycle Insurance (1,088) - again we have maximum coverage since the probability of needing it are good since riding is risky and most drivers will hit and run if they can, its best to have your own insurance because many drivers do not, and more than likely an accident will be the fault of the other party. 
  • Property Tax (1,088) - we are protected by the save our homes legislation that prevents tax increases in homes that people have lived in for many years.
  • Shopping misc (1,064) - This includes gifts, electronics accessories, clothing, and other weird stuff that doesn't fit in any other category. There is probably some room to cut expenses here. 
  • Water/garbage (725) - provided by the city so we don't have a choice in vendors. We do have an irrigation line so all outdoor water usage is charged at a tenth of the city water cost. We use less than 3000/gal water per month which is the threshold for the surcharge.
  • Newspapers/coupons (441) - this is large because I bought Winn Dixie $5 off $30 coupons, and I also get 8 Sunday papers for coupons. I might cut the newspapers back to 4 per week since I use a lot of printables now.
  • Health Insurance (450) - includes visit co pays and rx. Just trying to stay healthy to keep this cost low.
  • Pet (435) - includes dog food, meds and vet visits. The 13 yr old dog has been healthy this year except she has gone deaf. We also have a vet surgery scheduled to remove a cyst on her eyelid that will cost a bunch in early 2014.
  • Gasoline (291) - this includes cash we have used to buy gas cards at Publix, and the occasional time we have purchased gas while traveling by car.

So that's it for 2013. We want to spend less next year than this year, a simple goal. If we could keep our expenses under 30K that would be good. Looking forward to a prosperous 2014 with hopes of increasing our networth so that retirement is a little bit closer to reality.

Wishing you a healthy, prosperous and stress free life.

Happy New Year to You! 

Tampa Busch Gardens Pass Members Bring a Friend for Free

This is the January deal for Tampa pass holders - bring a friend for free, plus you get 30% off all purchases. This means those seven dollar brewskis are actually affordable. My pass actually just expired but I'm excited about their offer for $20 off a season pass plus 3 months free. Its been crowded lately with closed parking lots and the overflow parking lots full as well. Plan accordingly.
SeaWorld + Busch Gardens

January is Pass Member Appreciation Month


Bring a Friend
for FREE!
In January only, SeaWorld® Orlando and Busch Gardens® Tampa Pass Members receive a friend for free ticket to your park(s) of membership.
SeaWorldBusch Gardens
SeaWorld + Busch Gardens
SeaWorld Orlando Members

In January, Double Your Discount on select in-park purchases including:

• Dining in all of our
cafeteria-style restaurants
• Merchandise in our gift shops
Learn More
Busch Gardens Tampa Members

In January, enjoy 30% off select in-park purchases including:

• Food and Beverages
• Merchandise in our gift shops
Learn More
Online registration required for free ticket. One free ticket per Pass Member, per park of membership. Friend for Free offer valid for one single-day admission by January 31, 2014. Pass Member must be present at the park for the free ticket holder to get admittance. Busch Gardens free ticket and offers valid only for active 1-Year, 2-Year and Platinum Busch Gardens Tampa Pass Members. SeaWorld free ticket and offers valid for active SeaWorld Orlando 1-Year, 2-Year and FL Platinum Pass Members. Free ticket is nontransferable, not for resale and may be revoked for misuse. Not valid for Fun Cards, Teacher Study Passes and Friends and Family Passes. All offers not valid with any other discount or offer. Restrictions apply for in-park offers, please see respective park websites for more details.

My Publix Trip - Free Groceries w Gas Card Deal

 
I'm still not in the writing groove and don't really feel the inspiration to write some thoughtful blog posts. We've had a busy holiday week with several parties and events, and now it's time to figure out what we spent in 2013 and how the budgets all worked out. We had a pretty good year couponing, but not nearly as good as the past couple years - we've spent the same OOP but yielded less savings and product purchased. But its comforting to know coupons still save us money and the time and effort is worth investing in.
 
Anyway, onto my shop. We paid $48 for a $50 gas card and got all our groceries for free essentially (savings over $90). If you don't go shopping soon, you're going to find empty shelves for the Angel Soft TP, the Velveeta cheese,  Fresh Express Ceasar Kits and the Beneful dog treats. The shelves at one store were all empty of these items, and we just turned around and left. The Beneful dog treats are a money maker (-1.71 per pair) and the cheese is free with the family celebrations coupon (www.getthesavings.com/publixfamily ), and the Fresh Express lettuce is free with coupons (http://www.tonytantillo.com/newsletters/). It was also the last day to use the Hallmark bogo PQ's to give some overage on the Valentines .99 cards.
 
 

My Publix Trip - Paid $1.57

 
If you've been following for a few weeks you know I've been in Minnesota being caregiver for a family member. Well, I'm proud to say the patient is on track to being healthy and well by following doctors orders and medications, getting some daily exercise (a walk), eating right (no sweets or caffeine at night), and getting regular sleep with no naps.

But, I'm most glad to be back and able to finally use some of the new coupons from Publix. I had DH print off some of the Family Celebrations coupons and continue getting the All the Trimmings and Winter Savings Booklets from the store each trip. I also have some of the Beneful dog treats rainchecks that will expire in the middle of December that I'm anxious to use. There are new printables for the Baked Delight snacks and the Happy Smile snacks to stack with the PQ BOGO so the overage is great.

Anyway, after going to three different stores I finally found some dog treats at one. The shelves are cleared of these treats, so if you need to get some don't wait til the last day of your raincheck. I'm thinking I'll have to get my rainchecks extended if the product continues to be out of stock all week. Here's my shop, where I also got a $50 Visa gift card and my cashier let me just use two of the Winn Dixie coupons rather than making me split my order into two transactions. There was quite a bit of overage from the dog treats too covering the beer and paper plates we got. So essentially, we paid $1.57 for our groceries, and saved $84.49.

 

Men Can Coupon Too

I'm still up North being caregiver for a family member. The weather up here in MN is brutal, can't say I'd recommend it. I'm trying to be tough and have managed an hour of outdoor walking everyday for my exercise. I miss riding my bicycle and my hot tub, even though I hear the weather is warm and dry in Florida.
 
I've been shopping up here and I have to tell you people in Florida, we are very lucky with Publix and the generous coupon policy allowing a manufacturer coupon on the free item of a BOGO, plus the use of competitor coupons, and no minimum amount required to use coupons. I did a big shop at Rainbow here in MN and they have double coupons of up to 5 coupons if you spend at least $25, and you can stack with their store coupon and use expired coupons up to 30 days. I had a handful of coupons and it still didn't do much to help savings. We spent $118, and saved $60 (40 was store sales, 20 in coupons) for a 33% savings. With low savings like that it is going to be hard or impossible to convince my family up here to coupon.
 
Oh well, Publix is still great. Even DH can save money. He has done four shops with my input over Skype, and saved $342, spent $25.62 for a 93% savings this week.

 
 
 Saved $176.07, Spent $17.00 
 
 Saved $63.12, Spent $1.37
 
 Saved $53.58, Spent $6.55
 
Saved $49.99, spent $0.70
(There is a great deal on Duracell batteries this week using the Publix $1.50/1 coupon in the All the trimmings booklet + $3/2 MQ from 11-24RP. )
 
 


My Moneymaker Publix Trip - They Paid Me and I Saved $130!

Made $8, Saved $129 (107%)

Finally a nice Publix trip that turned out better than I expected. I thought for sure all the Beneful treats would be gone but there were 5 of each left and I have to admit I took 4 of each. I was planning on holding out for the Beneful coupon that will be in the 11/17 SS insert, but I'm glad I didn't because the Tampa inserts that came in the free Spanish newspaper this morning had a $2 off dog food coupon instead of the BOGO dog treat coupon I was expecting to get. This would have made a good moneymaker deal into a great moneymaker deal with both a MQ BOGO and a PQ BOGO coupon on top of a BOGO sale. Whew, that's a lot of sales to stack and figure.

I happened to ask at Customer Service if they had the new All the Trimmings booklets and they had hundreds of them behind the counter. They don't plan to put them out, everyone must ask and they are giving out 4 per person at this store. Another note about this trip that makes it great is this store takes MQ's up to 30 days expired. This made a deal on the McCormick spices with the new PQ in the All the Trimmings book, black pepper was even a moneymaker. It also made the Oberto Beef Jerky free with the BOGO MQ printable that expired for me in October. I always keep my coupons up to 30 days past expiration and check the coupon databases using the expired filter so I can take advantage of this.

I did split my order into two transactions to be able to use two of the $5 off $30 Winn Dixie coupons. I wish Publix would allow the use multiples in one order because splitting is a pain. But I just don't even try to calculate the separate orders now, I just cut it off at $30 and if there's overage they can pay me. Then I just use what I got paid to pay for the next transaction if I have to. Last night I got paid on both transactions so that was nice, $5 of it was just from splitting the orders and being able to use another WD coupon. For my combined shopping experience they paid me $8, and I saved $129.83 for a 107% savings rate.

Tomorrow, I'm having to travel to MN to be a caregiver for a family member for a month and I'll be trying to coordinate some semblance of couponing for DH while I'm gone. He always shops with me and should be able to do this fairly well, but he's of course nervous that he can't do it. If he does any good shops I'll post them. I also am taking this opportunity to train my family to coupon in MN. I started them a newspaper subscription and have started following Pocket Your Dollars for the matchups there. Hopefully, I can help them lower their shopping costs even though they have me as an extra mouth to feed and take care of. And of course they use a whole bunch of other products that I would not normally buy here, but I know they use regularly. Maybe I'll post a shopping trip from up there to show everyone in Florida how lucky we are with Publix and the great coupon policy they have.

My Publix Trip 11/07/13

my publix trip
 
This week's Publix trip was spendy, due to the case of beer DH wanted. I usually make him pay cash, but I burned through a gift card instead. I used my Fresh Express raincheck on the last day so I could use my expired Safeway coupons, plus we got all the other salad fixins. I also picked up 10 of the cookie mixes that are BOGO, I hope they are good.

Again, there was not enough product to do the Dove styler deal, so I've missed that this month. It seems like every Purple and Green flyer, there is never enough product to even get the deals. I think it might be time to call Corporate and ask them to give out rainchecks for the flyer deals with coupons when they are consistently out of stock for the entire ad period.

So this shop I spent $18.44 (on beer), and saved $64.57 (77% savings).

#BuschGardens November Passholder Freebie




This month of November, Busch Gardens Tampa is offering FREE COFFEE to season passholders available at any cafeterias, except Sultans Sweets. Just show your pass to the cashier to redeem this deal, one per day per passholder.