Saturday, February 28, 2009

Buy the Paper Tomorrow!

Just a reminder. If you're thinking about getting a newspaper to start clipping coupons, tomorrow is a great day to start. There will be two coupon inserts (now that the RP is being mailed to us instead of put in the newspaper.) The Proctor & Gamble insert only comes out once a month, so if you don't get the P&G coupons tomorrow, you'll have to wait another month! I'll be getting two or three papers this Sunday. Hope that helps!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Get a FREE subscription to Focus on the Family Magazine!

I was just glancing at some deals on Thrifty Mama's blog, and became so excited when I saw this. You can get a FREE subscription to Focus on the Family Magazine and/or Dr. Dobson's newsletter. I went ahead and signed up for mine, but I know several of you would probably enjoy this magazine as well. Being Family-Focus Friday, it seemed like a perfect time to mention it! If you don't know about them, here is their Mission Statement from their website:
"To cooperate with the Holy Spirit in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible by nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide."
Sign up HERE and enjoy!

Quick to speak, slow to listen

I'll probably never know whether it was spurred on by Wednesday's blog entry or a good afternoon nap, but DH was in the mood to talk. Though I was tired (I didn't get an afternoon nap) and mentally drifting, I was desperate to keep the conversation going. He was going on and on (in a good way) about the boys and how they've grown and changed. We discussed sending our oldest to a two-day preschool in the fall, and whether it would be beneficial or not. He raved about the pressure cooker that unexpectedly arrived in the mail (thanks, mom and dad!) He pondered financial decisions we would need to make if our house actually sold in this market or if he were offered a job in another part of the country. He explained the different job opportunities he may have in the next few years, and which ones really excite him (ooh, statistics!) I was able to sit and listen and ask questions. It was wonderful... and surprisingly humbling.

On Wednesday I shared that I would love to have more opportunities to sit and talk with DH, but didn't think he was very interested. Last night, though, he was. What had changed? After writing out my frustration, after realizing how much I desired a deep conversation, and after spending an hour doing exactly that, it has occurred to me that I may have been casting the first stone. Perhaps I've not been doing my part. For me to learn more about DH, I have to be willing to listen to him without changing the subject to something that interests ME! In order to listen, I have to stop talking, stop nagging, and give him a chance to speak. How often have I failed to listen? How often has he grown frustrated by my reluctance to learn of the burdens he carries? How often have I selfishly put my desire to talk above my responsibility to love and honor my husband? How often are we blind to our own sins? Forgive us, Lord.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?" - Matthew 7:3-4

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Couponing Really IS Worth It!

In the spring of 2003, I purchased the Sunday paper for three weeks in a row, clipped the coupons, and organized them in a coupon file. I took the coupons with me to shop and found that I may have saved $3 a shopping trip by using coupons. It was NOT worth the hassle!

This past November, I happened upon Kroger's Mega Sale. Wow. All these items at the lowest price I'd seen in a l-o-n-g time, and if you purchased 10, they took an extra $5 off your order! So I stocked up. Along with small amounts of other items, I got five pounds of ground beef, six boxes of cereal, and ten boxes of Toaster Strudel! I went to a thrifty forum to post the good deals I found, only to find someone else talking about even better deals. They used coupons for the super cheap items, and the coupons doubled, and then they got the $5 off for every 10 items purchased! And they stocked up, getting 20 lbs of ground beef, 15 boxes of cereal, and 18 boxes of Toaster Strudel. Oh, so THAT'S how you use coupons!

I started clipping coupons that next Sunday. By December, I was getting a good collection of coupons, and discovering other sources of coupons. I was using the coupons and matching them to sales, but I wasn't really spending less money. I was using the money I saved to start a stockpile. Now with a stockpile, I don't need to pay full price for anything at the grocery store (except for milk, eggs, and fresh produce.) I use the food in my freezer and pantry for my meal-planning. When I see a good grocery deal, I go stock up on those items, but don't buy things that aren't great deals. I have enough health-and-beauty items that I'm now able to start donating the free ones I get to local charities. I send my expired coupons to military families overseas (since they can use them up to 6 months after the expiration.) Even so, I've lowered my grocery bill by 40%, and I anticipate that my spending will continue to drop as I learn more.

If you think couponing might work for you (and you can't wait until my next Thrifty Thursday post to find out more), I suggest you visit Thrifty Mama's Coupon Basics for Newbies, Hot Coupon World's Couponing 101, or download Coupon Mom's free eBook "Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half". Remember, the Sunday paper is not the only source of coupons. Check your mail for the Red Plum coupons. Get coupons from the blinkie machines at the grocery store. Print them from the internet. There are lots of coupons out there. Use them and be a good steward of the gifts God has so graciously bestowed upon you.
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?" - Luke 16:10-11

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grocery Deals (2/25-3/3)

My grocery store ads (Kroger and Schnucks) start today and run until Tuesday, so, as promised, I will list the deals I intend to snag for myself. Check the ads for your region to be sure these deals are in your area.

There's a great 10/$10 sale this week. I will be getting:
  • Martha White Muffin Mix (use $0.55/2 blinkie coupon to make them $0.45 each)
  • Dole Pineapple (use $0.75/2 insert coupon from 2/1 to make them $0.63 each)
  • Hunt's canned tomato products (use $0.40/2 insert coupon from 1/18 to make them $0.60 each)
  • Starkist Pouch Tuna in Water (use B2G1 coupon to make them $0.67 each)
  • Pillsbury 10 ct. Homestyle Biscuits or 5 ct. Grands Biscuits (There are LOTS of coupons out there for these, even printables, with different prices on each. I'll be using insert coupons to make them $0.67 each. There is also a possibility of getting a coupon for $3 off your next order when you buy 5 Pillsbury refrigerated items, but there are mixed reports on this working at the moment.)
  • Ro*Tel 10 oz can Diced Tomatoes (use $0.30/1 insert coupon from 1/18 to make them $0.40 each)
  • Aquafresh Toothpaste (use $0.75/1 coupons to make them $0.25 each)
  • Colgate Toothbrush (use $1/1 printable to make them FREE or the $0.75/1 insert coupon from 2/22 to make them $0.25 each)
  • Goody's Headache Powders (use the $1/1 insert coupon from 2/8 to get them FREE)
  • Kroger Comforts Baby Wipes (if you get the 80 ct package, that's only $0.0125 per wipe!
Other good deals that are not 10/$10:
  • Kroger Moist & Tender Boneless Half Pork Loin, $1.97/lb
  • USDA Choice Boneless English Roast, $1.97/lb
  • Sanderson Farms Whole Fryer, $0.67/lb
  • Pillsbury Toaster Strudel, 2/$4 (use $0.35/1 insert coupon from 1/4 or 2/8 to make them$1.25 each)

  • Schnucks Milk, ALL varieties except chocolate (cheaper whole milk!!), $2.59/gallon
  • Hunt's Tomato Sauce, 5/$4 (use $0.40/2 insert coupon from 1/18 to make them $0.40 each)
  • Honey Maid Graham Crackers, 2/$6 (boy, I wish I could find a better deal on GOOD tasting graham crackers!)
  • Purex 2X Liquid Launry Detergent, 96 load bottle, $9.99 (I also wish I could find a better deal on HE detergent!)

Hope that helps someone out there. Wow, it's such a relief to have your shopping list done! I highly recommend it.

A Cozy Conversation

It's just the two of us, sitting on the couch in front of the fire. No TV, no computer, no phone, no books, no dogs, no kids, no distractions. Together, we consider how our relationship has changed through the years and describe our hopes and dreams for the future. We share our fears and discuss how we can help each other. We talk, we listen, we learn about each other, and through this cozy conversation, we grow closer.

This is my "fantasy" of an ideal relationship. I would love to sit up all night with DH and just talk about whatever was on our minds. Of course, the thought of spending more than 20 minutes in serious conversation with me sends him running for the remote control. It's not that he doesn't want to talk; he does. What he doesn't want is little to me carry on for 30 minutes about why I would like to buy a new shower curtain... and THEN ask him what he thinks and ask HIS reasoning behind it. Like most men, DH does not really care about that stuff. He sees the big picture and that's that. ("Will we still have a shower curtain? Okay then.")

I need to try harder not to bore him with unnecessary details. Did I really need to call him at work to tell him that we didn't get any mail? Did he really want to hear the "drama" with the cashier on my last shopping trip, THEN sit so I could show him what I got, item by item, and listen as I explained how much it was originally and how much I actually spent on it?

So here I lament that I probably shouldn't share each little detail of my life, my every random thought, or those silly little fears with my best friend, my husband. And at the same time, God longs for EXACTLY that sort of relationship with me. He loves me so much and wants to spend time with me, but I so often give him the cold shoulder, or go running for the remote control! The Lord wants me to tell him all the little stuff, confide in him, seek his opinion, and listen and learn from him. I find it a bit odd to compare prayer to a long chat with my hubby, but I'm beginning to believe that that's what I need to do in order to build that relationship.

Prayer - It's just the two of us, sitting on the couch in front of the fire. No TV, no computer, no phone, no books, no dogs, no kids, no distractions. Together, we consider how our relationship has changed through the years and describe our hopes and dreams for the future. We share our fears and discuss how we can help each other. We talk, we listen, we learn about each other, and through this cozy conversation, we grow closer.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Toddler's Mite

My 3-year-old found a nickel on the floor this morning. With excitement and anticipation, he held up his prize for me to see. "Mommy, I found some money!" Now, we have not discussed money with him. He knows his piggy bank clinks when he shakes it, and clinks louder when you add a coin, but as for the purpose, he's clueless. Or so I thought. I suggested to him that we should go put it in his piggy bank, and then he shocked me. He started to cry. Baffled, I tried to decipher what the problem was through his sobs and howls. Finally, I got it. "N-o-o-o-o. That's for c-h-u-r-c-h!!"

My immediate and humored thoughts went something like this:
"Easy for him to say! He doesn't know what else he could do with that money. I bet if I gave him a choice of putting that nickel in the offering plate or buying a lollipop at the store, he wouldn't have to think long on that one!"

How jaded we become. How selfish. Instead of a desperate desire to give and help others, we try to hoard it for ourselves. When giving to church or a charity, we consider "what else [we] could do with that money" before determining how much we will give. No wonder Jesus says we must come to him as little children. Oh, to return to that simple joy at being able to put a coin in the plate. My toddler will put his precious mite in the plate this Sunday. Perhaps we adults should follow the lead of a child after all.

And he said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)

Monday, February 23, 2009

I thought I WAS cooking!

I never learned to cook growing up. By the time I was old enough to pay attention, mom was going to school and working and she didn't have time to devote to much cooking. Breakfast was cereal or pop-tarts. Lunch on the weekends was opening a can of Vienna sausages and slicing off a hunk of cheddar cheese. Supper was often catch-as-catch-can, with our busy schedules interfering with a family supper. After ruining Thanksgiving AND Christmas dinner one year (what's the difference between preheat and bake, anyway?) I was no longer allowed in the kitchen to help prepare meals.

Fast-forward to my first year of marriage. We had our own kitchen, and DH is an excellent cook. On the few occasions where I had to cook, we had Stouffer's lasagna, Tyson chicken-kiev, Velveeta Mac-n-cheese, Banquet Crock-Pot Classics, and Digorno Pizza. Yes, I burned the food occasionally, even after we got the timer, and I sometimes forgot to turn the oven off until bedtime, but I was cooking.

Six years later, DH and I were contemplating the possibility of my staying home with our 17-month-old son and the one on the way. We wouldn't be making much money after paying for daycare for two, and as often as I had to take off work to stay at home with one sick child, I didn't want to think about how many days I'd miss with two children in daycare! So, DH decided that I could stay home with the children on one condition: I had to learn to cook.

Huh? So what had I been doing the past six years? I thought I WAS cooking! Apparently I'm still just some loser in the kitchen who can't handle a nice dinner. Yeah. Okay. Fine. I'll cook.

So with a bitter heart, I scanned cookbooks, registered on cooking websites, and found a few recipes that looked easy enough for me to do. I got the ingredients and... continued "cooking" what I was comfortable with... when I couldn't convince DH to cook. Knowing I was a failure in the kitchen, I made a conscious decision to avoid showing it off. For two years, I may have tried out a recipe once a month, but mostly stuck with my usual menu.

As I reevaluate my God-given roll as a wife, mother, and homemaker, I've realized that my "cooking" was destroying our budget, low on nutrition, and high in unsavory additives. My selfish, childish behavior was harmful to our family. Through meal planning, I've been able to add new things in bit-by-bit. Yes, it's been a process, but with God on one side and my DH chef on the other, I know I will succeed. Next step... cooking rice (and not the kind in a microwavable pouch!)

Meal Planning (2/23-3/1)

I am a very beginner cook, and though I'm branching out with new recipes (those with links) I feel that I've come a long way toward feeding my family well. We're using healthier ingredients, fewer convenience foods, rarely go out to eat, eating fruits and vegetables as snacks and sides, all on a reduced budget. Meal planning works for me!

Monday 2/23

Lunch: Corn dogs
Supper: Lentil tacos

Tuesday 2/24
Lunch: Chicken salad sandwich
Supper: Mexican Lasagna

Wednesday 2/25
Lunch: Tuna melts
Supper: Chicken nuggets

Thursday 2/26
Lunch: Hotdogs & Mac-n-cheese
Supper: Crockpot Apricot Pork

Friday 2/27
Lunch: Manwich
Supper: Frozen Pizza

Saturday 2/28
Lunch: Stir-fry (cooked by DH)
Supper: Meatball biscuits and Progresso soup

Sunday 2/29
Lunch: Totino's Pizza Rolls
Supper: Breakfast for supper (cooked by DH)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday's Sales!

I'm not going to post every deal out there. I'm not even going to post the ones I personally think are best. There are plenty of other sites that do that. (See the links on my blog for some great ones.) What I'm doing (since this blog is primarily to keep ME focused) is listing the stores I will visit, the coupons I plan to use, and my final OOP (out of pocket.) Come shopping with me and snag these deals for yourself, or use the links provided and find your own deals. But have fun! By using coupons and matching them with sales, you are serving your family. By sharing and donating extra items you can get free or very cheap, you are serving others. By giving praise to the One who provides these opportunities, you are serving God.
*Note - My grocery store ads run from Wednesday-Tuesday, so I will post my grocery lists on Wednesday.

CVS (You've got to have a CVS card to get the deals)
Gillette Fusion Gamer razor
(earn $0.01) It's on sale for $7.99. Use the $4/1 coupon from the 2/8 Proctor & Gamble coupon insert and pay $3.99 for the razor. When you check out, you will get an ECB (CVS coupon) for $4 to use on your next purchase. So, you've made $0.01!

Renuzit TriScents Starter Kit
(earn $0.51) Thanks, Crystal! It's on sale for $5.49. Use the $4/1 coupon from Sunday's Smart Source coupon insert and pay $1.49 for the air freshener. When you check out, you will get an ECB (CVS coupon) for $2 to use on your next purchaes. So, you've made $0.51! By the way, this one's got a limit of 5, so you can do this several times this month or all at once! Maybe I shouldn't post these deals. Now my family and friends will have an idea of what I actually paid for their birthday/Christmas presents!

Rimmel face or eye cosmetics BOGO (buy 1, get one free) sale. I've been wanting to try the Sexy Curves mascara for months, but I've never had any luck matching the sale to the coupon. Now, I've got 2 $1/1 coupons from this week's Red Plum to match the bogo sale! I purchased the mascara for $7.54, got the Exaggerate eyeliner (my favorite) for free. Then used 2 coupons, so I essentially got the mascara and eyeliner for $5.54 (regularly priced at 14.52). No, this is not FREE or a MM (money-maker,) but it's a great deal for a product I've wanted for a while and my favorite eyeliner!

Gillette Fusion Gamer razor
(earn $1.01) It's on sale for $8.99 (limit 1). Use the $4/1 coupon from the 2/8 Proctor & Gamble coupon insert and pay $4.99 for the razor. When you check out, you will get a RR (Walgreen's coupon) for $6 to use on your next purchase. So, you've made $1.01!

Reynold's Wrap
(earn $0.11) There's an in-ad coupon that makes them $0.89 each (limit 2). Use the $1/1 coupon from the 2/8 coupon insert. You must have a filler to suck up the overage. This is a good time to get another item that you want (maybe a BOGO Hershey bar or a $0.39 Hunt's 8 oz tomato sauce) to eat the overage since Walgreens will not give you money back for your savy shopping. When you checkout, have them ring up the Reynold's Wraps (I'll be getting 2) and the tomato sauce. Give the cashier both $1/1 Reynold's coupons, then the $0.89 Reynold's coupon, then the in-ad coupon for the Hunts. Final total for two boxes of foil and a can of tomato sauce: $0.17 plus tax.

Confession - I am a chocoholic. Putting our family on a strict budget has put a huge dent in my ability to get chocolate when the urge strikes. I know I can't be the only female out there who wants to find good deals on chocolate, but I have yet to find another website that actually lists deals on chocolate. So, I'm going to do it myself. If I can find chocolate or candy bars for $0.40 or less, then I buy several to last until the next good sale. If I can get it cheaper, then I get more!

Cheap Chocolate Alert!!
FREE chocolate at Walgreens! With the in-ad coupon, Hershey's single candy bars are buy one (at $0.89,) get one free. Combine with the 1/25 Hershey's BOGO coupon or the 1/4 Reece's Whipps $1/2 coupon and you've got FREE chocolate!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Current Events

I've never been very interested in politics, the economy, or current events. I would rather focus on how to best take care of those I love. However, lately it seems like I've been bombarded with the news from all sides. When I sort through my 4 Sunday papers to gather coupons, the headlines break my heart. When I log on to a website, the "Top News Stories" gadget calls out doom and gloom through the work of terrorists. When I go to church, we pray for those who lives are in turmoil from the economic crisis.

It's so easy to become so thoroughly engrossed in the headlines that we lose focus on what's important. Anxiety fills our hearts, and we lose sleep as we consider what options we have to pay the mortgage, keep our families safe, or put food in our children's mouths. But our God has given us a heart of courage and hope, not fear. I desperately want to protect my children, but his desire to love and protect us is exponentially greater! Have faith and rejoice that God is good, and His love surpasses imagination.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge:
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling -
even the Lord, who is my refuge -
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation." (Psalm 91)

Friday, February 20, 2009


"I will read my Bible for 15 minutes every day."
"I will become debt-free and take control of my finances."
"I will learn to cook to provide healthy, budget-friendly meals to my family."

New year's resolutions can seem so imperative on January 1st, but they often lose their drive come February. After a few bumps in the road, I just give up and say, "I'll start over next month." Then, "Well, I blew February. I may as well give up!"

Yes, a new year is a wonderful time to start fresh with a clean slate. But God has given us new months, new days, and even new hours. Breathe in His peace. He loves us no matter how often we blow it. He loves us whether or not we keep those resolutions. As imperfect as we are, He loves us so much that he sent his perfect son to us to die. His death and resurrection makes us perfect in God's sight. Persevere with the knowledge that no matter how often you mess up, we are beloved children to the God of creation.

This is my new start. I've found that if I write things down, I'm more likely to follow through. Through this blog, I hope to organize my thoughts and feelings as they pertain to family, finances, food, and faith.

"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)
Thank you, Lord, for always giving me a new start, a clean slate, through the works of your precious son. I know you have a perfect plan for me. Through your spirit, help me to see the path you have put before me. Help me to say, write, think, and do what you would have of me. A relationship with you is my deepest desire. May my "resolutions" not be the goals, but methods to draw closer to you and spread your Gospel in the world.